Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Momentary lapse

Remaining focused and alert is every bit as important on part score deals as it is on what are obviously tight games or slams. A momentary lapse on this innocuous looking deal proved expensive.

      Dealer W
      N/S Vulnerable

The bidding was straightforward:

West   North   East   South

1      Pass     1NT     2
  2       All Pass               

North leads 7 and dummy goes down with its sparse assets. What are your initial thoughts?

This looks promising. Assuming that South has six diamonds, you would have had at most five defensive tricks against a diamond partscore. The opponents also have a majority of the points, so if you can make 2S, you are sure of a fine score. Even if you go one off, it is hardly likely to be a disaster - but no excuses here.

If spades break reasonably, as seems probable  - South would likely have reopened the bidding with a double in take-out position having a shortage in spades, while if South held four spades, North with ten cards between clubs and hearts and a doubleton diamond would also likely have taken action - you therefore have two spade losers, two heart losers and two possible club losers. How do you go about avoiding that scenario?

Consider the clubs. If South has three clubs or a singleton or doubleton honour, your intermediates (thank goodness for dummy's ten!) are good enough to force the establishment of the 9 as a winner by simply playing clubs from the top. However, what if North holds both club honours and South holds only a doubleton or singleton?

Supposing that you simply bash out ace of spades and another spade, is there not a real danger that the opponents will win, cash their two heart winners and then South will lead a club through your AK98? You can finesse, but North will win with J, cash his remaining spade winner (if he has it) and exit with a diamond. You will then be forced to play the clubs from hand, conceding a second trick in the suit.

You might do better by leading a heart from the table at trick two, hoping for a misdefence. True, the heart honours are likely split and it may be difficult for North to read the situation after winning the first heart trick, but that is surely not the best solution.

The answer to the problem is that you have to remove North's exit card in diamonds before the defence cash their winners. If North is left on lead after the club is played through and has only hearts and clubs left, he will have the unenviable choice between letting dummy win a heart with the now established J (who said that dummy had limited assets?) or playing a club back into your tenace.

So having won the opening lead with dummy's A, you must ruff a diamond at trick two before touching spades. Once you ruff the diamond, you cash A and play a second round of the suit. North wins, leads a heart to his partner's ace and a club comes through. You can win this and exit with a heart, or duck this and leave North endplayed. Alternatively South might play another diamond, but you ruff this and again put North on play with his K. Finally, if you are playing against Forquet and Garozzo, and North cashes his top heart before putting his partner on lead with a second heart to play a third round of diamonds, you ruff and play A and another club from hand, for the full deal is:

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