Perfect Defense; Declarer Wins the Battle

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Perfect Defense
South was appalled by his partner’s bid, but he was very pleased with the final contract. It appeared that dummy’s doubleton club would provide him with his 10th trick via a club ruff.

Dlr: South Vul: Both
Scoring: MPs

S 7 5 3
H Q 9 6 5
D J 10 3 2
C 8 5
S J 10 2
H 7 4
D 9 8 7 5
C A K 9 2
S 9 8
H A K J 10 8 2
D 4
C Q J 10 6
S A K Q 6 4
H 3
D A K Q 6
C 7 4 3
West North East South
Pass 3S(!) 4H 4S
All Pass

West led the king of clubs, and North apologized for her bid as she spread the dummy. “I had one of my clubs in with my spades,” she explained.

At most tables West continued with the ace of clubs before switching to a heart, and declarer had no trouble taking 10 tricks. But this West decided to switch. His first thought was a trump, but he felt quite sure it would be impossible to remove all three trumps from dummy. He decided to try a heart instead, hoping against hope for two tricks in the suit.

East won with the jack and shifted to his singleton diamond. Declarer recognized that this must be a singleton. How could he counteract this move?

He couldn’t draw trumps – then he’d have three club losers. Maybe he could draw two rounds of trumps and then lead a club. He realized this wouldn’t work either. If East had the last trump, West would win and give partner his diamond ruff. If West held the last trump, he would lead it when he won the club, removing dummy’s last trump.

Declarer realized the defense had found the killing defense, but he tried leading two trumps and then a club. West of course led a trump, and what looked like a cold four spades went down one.

Did you notice that East-West are cold for four hearts?

Quite a battle ensued between declarer and East on this deal.

Dlr: South Vul: Both

S J 7 6 3
H 9 8 3
D 10 7
C K 8 6 3
S 2
H —
D A J 8 5 4 2
C A Q J 10 7 2
S Q 9 5 4
H Q 7 5 2
D 6 3
C 9 5 4
S A K 10 8
H A K J 10 6 4
D K Q 9
C —


West North East South
4NT Pass 5C 5H
All Pass

West showed a wild hand with both minors with his leap to four notrump. Not wanting to bid the same hand twice, West passed at his second turn and led the ace and another diamond. Declarer considered unblocking a high diamond in hopes of using the diamond 10 as an entry to dummy. However, he knew West would lead the jack if he unblocked, so he followed with the 9 and won the second diamond.

When declarer cashed the ace of trumps, West’s discard was annoying. Declarer decided to try to get to dummy with spades. He cashed the ace of spades and continued with the 10. If East had taken this, declarer would have had a sure entry to dummy with the jack of spades to pick up the trumps by running the 9. Declarer would lose only a diamond and a spade.

However, East saw all this, so he let the spade 10 hold. Declarer countered by cashing the king of spades and then throwing dummy’s remaining spade on the queen of diamonds. East ruffed in and returned a club. Declarer trumped this, ruffed his last spade in dummy and then took the trump finesse to pick up the suit. He made three spades, six trumps, a diamond and a spade ruff for 11 tricks.

If East had refused to ruff the queen of diamonds and pitched a spade instead, declarer would ruff the spade 8 with the 9 and East could overruff or not – it made no difference. If he overruffed, his remaining trumps were too small to cause declarer any problem. If he failed to overruff, declarer was in dummy and could take a trump finesse, losing only a diamond and a spade overruff.

A point of trivia – there is only one card West can lead to defeat five hearts, the jack of diamonds!

About the Author:

Harold Schogger has just celebrated 40 years of bridge teaching. He opened his bridge club in Hendon London in 1983. Since 1997 he has devoted his time to teaching and directing.

He holds the Professional Teachers’ Diploma from the English Bridge Union, and now trains teachers for the EBU. He is also a member of the International Bridge Press Association. Harold is the author of Practice Your Rule of 11 and the ebook Bridge for Winners.

Harold has been an OKbridge member since 1997. You can see his valuable blog posts here under the category Bridge Hand Review. Harold is also a Premier Life Master.

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