RHO opens 1♠
. If I weren't vulnerable, a 2♦
overcall would be clear, since the four-card spade suit makes it likely we have a diamond fit. Vulnerable, however, an overcall does not appeal. I pass, LHO bids 1NT, and RHO bids 2♣
. I pass, LHO corrects to 2♠
, which is passed back to me.
This is annoying. I have good defense against spades, but the opponents have probably stopped low enough that we won't be able to beat them. This is precisely why, if not vulnerable, it makes sense to overcall. An immediate 2♦
bid, before they have a chance to gauge their fit, might propel them to the three-level.
I pass. What should I lead? Often it's right to go for a tap when you have trump length. But with natural trump tricks, that's less clear. If declarer has aces and kings on the side, scoring his small trumps via ruffs may be exactly what he wants to do. The determining factor is how good declarer's clubs are. If he has slow club tricks, it will be right to deprive him of those tricks via a tap. If he doesn't, tapping him is probably wrong. I have no way of knowing for sure. But I do know I can't offer any assistance in stopping clubs, so I lead the ♦J.
Declarer plays low from dummy. Partner plays the ♦
3; declarer, the ♦
7. I don't know much more now than I did before seeing dummy. Tapping him still might be the wrong idea. But I've started on this path, and I don't see any clear reason to change my mind. I play the ♦
6. Declarer plays low, partner plays the ♦
A, and declarer ruffs with the ♠
2. Partner couldn't work out to play the ♦
9 on this trick?
Declarer plays the ♣
3. I see no reason to give count, since partner doesn't have much to do on this deal. I play the ♣
6. The ♣
4 is missing, so I can't tell if partner has played high or low. Declarer plays the ♠
6. The fact that he is drawing trumps suggests his clubs are running. If they weren't, he would either be establishing them or he would be ruffing a diamond, preparing to play the hand on a scramble. So I can be pretty sure declarer has the ♣
Partner plays the ♠
3, and declarer plays the ♠
8. That looks like AJ982. I win with the ♠
Q rather than the ♠
10. I don't have anything in particular in mind. But, as Lowenthal demonstrated to me time and time again, you don't need to see why a falsecard might gain in order to produce it. If it can't cost, you might as well give it a try. It can pay off in unexpected ways. This particular falsecard might cost on a different deal. For example, I might find myself on play with ♠
K10, with declarer holding ♠
Jx, and be unable to draw his trumps. But that can't happen on this deal, since I have no entries outside the trump suit.
I have three trump tricks and the ♦
A. We need two more tricks. The only place we can get them is in the heart suit, so I need partner to have the ♥
KQ. One way to take two heart tricks is to lead the suit. But that requires declarer to have three hearts. If I can tap him out and lock him in dummy, maybe we can take two heart tricks even if has a doubleton.
Suppose declarer is 5-2-1-5. I lead the ♦
K, tapping him. Now he cashes the ♠
A and starts running clubs. We will reach this position:
If he leads the ♣
Q, I ruff, draw his last trump, and play any red card. He's locked in dummy and must lose two hearts.
Double-dummy declarer can make it in this position. He needs only three tricks. He can take them by playing a heart to dummy, pitching a heart on the ♦
Q, and ruffing a heart. But that requires partner to be out of trumps.
An alternative line is to lead the ♠
J, hoping trumps are 3-3. If he does that, I win the ♠
K and play a diamond. Now I don't need partner to have the ♥
KQ. The king alone will do, since I have a long diamond for the setting trick. This line would be particularly attractive to a gullible declarer who assumes partner must have the ♠
So if declarer is 5-2-1-5, I need to lead the ♦
K. I can't beat him by force. But it does give him a losing option. Does it hurt anything to lead the ♦
K if declarer is 5-3-1-4 with jack third of hearts? Is partner in danger of being endplayed?
Say I tap declarer with the ♦
K and, again, he cashes the ♠
A and starts running clubs. I ruff the third round, reaching this position, needing three more tricks:
My plan was to draw declarer's last trump and play a red card. I can't play a heart, however. Partner will be endplayed. Perhaps I can play a diamond, forcing declarer to pitch a heart, thereby destroying the endplay. No. That doesn't work. Partner can pitch one heart on the ♠
K, but when I play a diamond, he's squeezed. It's an unusual squeeze, since partner is squeezed out of a loser
, not a winner. If he pitches his club loser, declarer can afford to pitch his ♣
J, retaining the endplay.
What if I don't cash the spade so the count isn't corrected for the squeeze? Does that work? If declarer has three hearts (as I will know from partner's count signal in clubs), then I don't need to draw declarer's trump. He can't ruff anything that I can't overruff.
Suppose, in the above position, I immediately play a diamond. Partner pitches a heart. Now it is declarer
who is squeezed. If declarer also pitches a heart, there is no endplay. When he plays a heart from dummy, partner can hop with the queen and return the king, and I will take the last two tricks. If, instead, declarer pitches a club, then partner's club is high. When declarer plays a low heart from dummy, partner hops and plays his club winner. Declarer ruffs, I overruff and cash the last diamond for the setting trick. Interesting. Refusing to cash the spade avoids correcting the count for the squeeze against partner. But the count is already corrected for the squeeze against declarer. That's because declarer has an extra busy card. He can't afford to "pitch" his trump on the ♦
Back to this position:
I lead the ♦
K; declarer ruffs with the ♠
9. But he doesn't cash the ♠
A. Instead, he plays the ♥
3, then plays the ♠
7 to his jack. My falsecard paid off. This would not be a possible line had I won the first spade trick with the ten.
I win with the ♠
K. If partner has the ♥
K, declarer is down. I play a diamond to dummy's queen. Partner pitches the ♥
4; declarer, the ♣
4. Declarer plays a club to his ace, cashes the ♠
A, and plays the ♣
Q. I ruff and cash the long diamond. Unfortunately, it is declarer who has the ♥
K, so he takes the last trick. Making two.
Did partner's error at trick two cost the contract? No. We were never beating this. If partner plays the ♦
9 and the play proceeds along similar lines, we would eventually reach this position with declarer needing three more tricks.
Obviously three more tricks are easy. In fact, he can score a fourth for an overtrick. Declarer cashes the ♥
AK and plays a club. The only way I can prevent him from scoring dummy's ♠
7 is by ruffing and leading a trump. If I do that, declarer regains control and scores a club trick.
So we actually had no way to stop three. Yet, by presenting declarer with a gift of the ♦
Q, we managed to hold him to two. I'm not sure why it works out that way, but I'll take it.
The key to this deal, as is often the case, is drawing the right inference in order to reduce the number of things you have to worry about. The fact that declarer tried to draw trumps rather than play for a scramble meant his clubs were solid. The end position was complicated enough even after drawing that conclusion. If you have to worry about layouts where partner has a club trick, the deal would be virtually impossible to analyze.
Our teammates play 2♠
, making three, so we pick up an IMP.
Table 1: -110
Table 2: +140
Score on Board 2: +1 IMP
Total: +3 IMPs