Join Bridge Winners
A Diversion
(Page of 8)

In a semi-final match in the Senior trials for USA2, you face an evaluation decision.

Both vul, East deals. As South, you hold:

South
93
KJ1092
Q6
A765
W
N
E
S
P
?

2 would be a weak 2 in one of the majors

Your call?

South
93
KJ1092
Q6
A765
W
N
E
S
P
?

You open light. However, you have to draw the line somewhere. This hand looks to be just below that line. Your 5-4 shape and your heart suit are good, but the queen-doubleton isn't pulling full weight. If you instead had two small diamonds and AQxx of clubs, this would be a fine 1 opener.

What about opening multi? There is no such thing as a hand which isn't strong enough to open with a 1-bid but is too strong to open multi. If the hand were otherwise perfect for a multi, you would go one way or the other. This hand isn't perfect. A 5-card suit is permissible, of course, but second seat both vulnerable you would much prefer a 6-bagger. Opening multi is okay, but passing is probably better.

You pass. The bidding continues:

W
N
E
S
P
P
2
X
P
?

2: 6+ clubs (usually), 10-15 points

Your call?

South
93
KJ1092
Q6
A765
W
N
E
S
P
P
2
X
P
?

You could just invite with 3. But partner isn't doubling for his health. He heard you pass initially, so he should have some game interest. All your cards are working well. You have no wastage in clubs, good shape, and a strong trump suit. You are vulnerable. This is not the hand you want to risk bringing back +170 lose 10 to the comparision. You must bid game.

You bid 4, ending the auction.

W
N
E
S
P
P
2
X
P
4
P
P
P

West leads the king of spades:

North
AQ86
AQ5
J432
QJ
South
93
KJ1092
Q6
A765
W
N
E
S
P
P
2
X
P
4
P
P
P

You win the ace of spades, East playing the 5 (UDCA).

How do you approach this hand?

North
Q86
AQ5
J432
QJ
South
9
KJ1092
Q6
A765
W
N
E
S
P
P
2
X
P
4
P
P
P

If there were no enemy bidding, this hand would not be a problem. You would take a club finesse, and if it loses you would ruff a club in dummy and claim.

The opening 2 bid warns you away from that approach. While West might open 2 in third seat on some hands with a 5-card suit, the suit would surely be better than K109xx. You can assume that the clubs are 6-1, and taking a club finesse would lead to instant defeat.

One possibility which comes to mind is to try to ruff 2 clubs in dummy. That might result in 7 trump tricks, 2 spade tricks, and a club trick. If you are going to try this you may need to start immediately, as otherwise the opponents can draw 2 rounds of trumps. The problem is that your trump spots, strong as they seem, might not be strong enough. You will have to ruff both clubs high to avoid being overruffed, as ruffing small would succeed only if East has the miracle 4-3 doubleton holding. Meanwhile, you will have to get back to your hand to take those 2 ruffs and eventually draw trumps.

Let's suppose you play ace of clubs and a club. West will win, and play a trump. You will have to win in hand, ruff a club, cash the queen of spades, ruff a spade high (necessary assuming the lead is from king-doubleton which it almost certainly is), and ruff another club. Now how do you get back to your hand? If West started with 3 diamonds, he will have discarded a diamond on the third round of spades, so you won't be able to ruff a diamond small. Leading dummy's fourth spade and discarding a diamond won't work, since West can also discard a diamond and be as short as you are in diamonds. East is almost certain to have a diamond honor, since if West had AK of diamonds he probably would have led a high diamond rather than the king of spades. Scoring that 2 of trumps is going to be quite a problem.

Perhaps a partial trump removal could succeed. You could draw 2 rounds of trumps and give up a club trick. No, that won't work. If East has the outstanding trump, he ruffs the second round of clubs. If West has the outstanding trump he leads it, and you will have to lose a club trick in the end.

Maybe a diversion is called for. You know that your goal is to ruff 2 clubs in dummy and score 7 trump tricks, but it will be very difficult for the opponents to see this looking at the QJ doubleton of clubs in dummy. How about the effect of leading a diamond off dummy at trick 2. Look at what might happen.

If East's diamond honor is the ace, he might go up. From his point of view your shape could be 3-5-1-4 with the stiff king of diamonds. Also, he would be itching to put his singleton club through. If that happens, you are in good shape. You win East's club return, and exit with a club. If West started with king-doubleton of diamonds he can still defeat you by the very unnatural play of cashing the king of diamonds before exiting with a trump. If he fails to do so, you can ruff 2 clubs in dummy (using a trump and a high spade ruff as entries), and get off dummy with a diamond. This will negate the overruff threat. If West started with 3 diamonds, he will have no defense.

If East doesn't go up with a diamond honor, your best bet is probably to play small from your hand. A trump shift will defeat you, of course, but they don't know that. Most likely West will win and continue spades, knocking the entry off dummy. You can now try club to ace and a club. If West started with ace-doubleton of diamonds he will need to get that ace of diamonds out of his hand before playing a trump, or you will have your path back to your hand.

You choose to play ace of hearts and a heart to your 9. East follows with the 3 and 4, and West the 6 and 7. What do you try next?

North
Q86
Q
J432
QJ
South
9
KJ10
Q6
A765
W
N
E
S
P
P
2
X
P
4
P
P
P

As discussed, ducking a club can't work. West will win and then either give his partner a ruff if East has the long trump or lead the third round of trumps himself if West has it. Your only hope is to manufacture a trick out of the diamond suit.

One possibility is to cross to the queen of hearts and lead a diamond. If East has the ace and fears you have a singleton king, he may go up ace. That will set up a diamond trick for you, and East can't knock out both of dummy's entries.

The other possibility is to draw the third trump, remaining in your hand. This may give West a chance to make an error.

East can deduce that if you needed to steal a diamond trick you probably would have done so at trick 2. It is probably better to stay in your hand.

You cash the king of hearts. West follows, and East discards the 5. Now what?

North
Q86
J432
QJ
South
9
J10
Q6
A765
W
N
E
S
P
P
2
X
P
4
P
P
P

It appears that West's shape is 2-3-2-6. If so, you have some chances. Your best bet is to lead a small diamond towards dummy. West might hit the panic button and go up, particularly if he has king-doubleton. If West makes that error, you will be able to score a diamond trick. In addition, there is the unlikely possibility that West did start with AK of diamonds and chose to lead a spade.

You choose to lead a club. West wins the king, and leads the 7 to dummy's queen. What do you try now?

North
86
J432
Q
South
J10
Q6
A76
W
N
E
S
P
P
2
X
P
4
P
P
P

Your only hope is to lead a diamond off dummy and that East makes a mistake and goes up ace. He shouldn't at this point since he now has a count on the hand, but it is the only chance you have.

You lead a diamond off dummy. East plays small, and your queen loses to West's king. West returns a club. You have to lose a club to West in the end for down 1. The full hand is:

West
K7
876
K10
K109843
North
AQ86
AQ5
J432
QJ
East
J10542
43
A9875
2
South
93
KJ1092
Q6
A765
W
N
E
S
P
P
2
X
P
4
P
P
P
D
4 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
K
A
5
3
1
1
0
A
3
2
6
1
2
0
5
4
9
7
3
3
0
K
8
Q
5
3
4
0
5
K
J
2
0
4
1
7
Q
4
9
1
5
1
2
7
Q
K
0
5
2
3
Q
2
7
1
6
2
8

It turns out the contract could have been made simply by ruffing a club with the 5, as East did hold the miracle 43 doubleton. That certainly isn't the percentage play.

What do you think of West's opening lead and the subsequent defense?

West
K7
876
K10
K109843
North
AQ86
AQ5
J432
QJ
East
J10542
43
A9875
2
South
93
KJ1092
Q6
A765
W
N
E
S
P
P
2
X
P
4
P
P
P
D
4 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
K
A
5
3
1
1
0
A
3
2
6
1
2
0
5
4
9
7
3
3
0
K
8
Q
5
3
4
0
5
K
J
2
0
4
1
7
Q
4
9
1
5
1
2
7
Q
K
0
5
2
3
Q
2
7
1
6
2
8

West's opening lead is quite reasonable. The lead of the king from king-doubleton is much underestimated by most players. It has the advantage that it might create a third round ruff or overruff. In addition it is safer than underleading the king from a longer holding, since the king is going to come down next round anyway. For example, suppose dummy has AQx and declarer Jxx. Leading from Kxxx blows a trick in the suit, but leading from king-doubleton doesn't cost since declarer can always pick up the suit. Yet players will underlead the king of a long suit vs. suit contracts more readily than they will lead the king from king-doubleton.

After that, the defense was routine. West simply knocked out dummy's entries when he could, and East counted the hand and didn't make the mistake of going up ace of diamonds.

At the other table, West opened 1 in third seat and North chose to overcall 1NT. 3NT would have been successful, but a transfer auction led to 4 from the North side. East led his singleton club, declarer naturally played small, and the defense quickly took the first four tricks.

It is always important to remember that the opponents aren't looking into your hand. If you can find a play which makes your intentions appear different than they actually are, the opponents will often make a mistake since their picture of the hand will be inaccurate. Whether declarer would have made 4 if he had led a diamond off dummy at trick 2 we will never know, but he certainly might have succeeded.

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