Join Bridge Winners
A Curveball at the Sectional Swiss
(Page of 4)

Against your better judgment you have entered the local sectional Swiss. On this deal, you're East, facing opponents who are not highly scientific bidders but are good card players. You see this:

West
North
J102
864
AQ
J10985
East
8
A10732
10752
Q73
South
W
N
E
S
1
3
3
5
6
P
P
P
D
6 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
8
Q
10
3
1
1
0
A
7
A
K
1
2
0
J
3
5
2
1
3
0
3

The play starts:

8, Q, 10, 3

A, 7 (no beer for you), A, K

J, 3, 5, 2

That's interesting. Partner ducks the setting trick. Declarer leaps to a slam and discards an ace. Naturally, you get the problem.

Plan the defense.

Partner would not duck with a trump trick, so declarer's spades are solid.

You and partner know from each other's diamond plays that each of you has a high heart, but you should know that anyway: Declarer would not be playing this way with two of the top three. Partner may not be sure you have the A, though. If he had no choice but to play you for the A, he would have won the first club.

Let's look at it from partner's point of view, assuming declarer has A. Since he has a good hand, declarer must have more spades than hearts, so declarer's minimum hand is something like

AKQxxx Axxxx x A

With that, he is on track to take 6, 1, 2, and 3. What is partner doing?

The only one of declarer's tricks partner can attack is a club. This could happen if the play continues:

10, Q, ruff, low

cross to dummy while drawing 2 rounds of trumps

9, low, discard, K

4th round of clubs, ruffed by you

Now declarer has only11 tricks.

That's pretty, isn't it? Unfortunately, you need 3 trumps for it to work. Well, if partner thinks you might have 3 and declarer 6, declarer actually has 8 (he wouldn't be playing this way with 9), and the full hand is something like this:

West
x
KJ
KJ9864
K642
North
J102
864
AQ
J10985
East
8
A10732
10752
Q73
South
AKQxxxxx
Q95
3
A
D

Partner's pretty defense will be a spectacular disaster on this hand. While partner might figure it out without help (we'll get to that), any partner who has thought of this defense will not abandon it lightly. You had better help him out by not covering the next club. That will leave partner no choice but to play you for A.

This problem was inspired by a hand in Play A Swiss Team of Four with Mike Lawrence, a 1982 book that is primarily an intermediate tutorial on IMP strategy, but includes some good card play hands. This is Mike's hand:

West
2
Q9
KJ9864
K642
North
J93
864
AQ
J10985
East
865
K107
10752
Q73
South
AKQ1074
AJ532
3
A
W
N
E
S
P
P
P
1
3
3
5
6
P
P
P
D
6 South
NS: 0 EW: 0

Some of you might find it interesting to figure out whether declarer can make double dummy. The book won't help; Mike's West wins the first club.

Results: Your teammates stopped in game, so this is a 26-IMP swing. If you ducked the next round of clubs, +13 IMPs, but you only deserve it if you did it for the right reason. If you covered the next club, declarer ruffs, crosses to dummy in spades, and runs the third club to partner's K; partner triumphantly plays a 4th club. -13 IMPs. You win the post-mortem easily (declarer would have drawn 2 rounds of trumps with the 6-5 hand, and you would not have signalled for hearts so vigorously without the A), and partner apologizes. You'd rather have the IMPs, though.

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