I'd like you to answer a poll...

I'd like you to answer a poll.

My reasons for asking are a bit long-winded, and maybe I will go over them at another time.

But before we get to the poll, I'm going to give you two problems; one on declarer-play, one on defense.

Now, my understanding is that I cannot have a multi-page poll.  So, if you will bear with me, this will all be on one long page.

============================================================================================

The format is knockout teams, IMPs scoring. You are South throughout.

Problem One

North
93
K953
AK
AJ1064
South
AKQ10762
A4
105
Q7
W
N
E
S
1
1
2
P
2NT
P
3
P
4
P
4NT
P
5
P
6
P
P
P

Yes, an old-fashioned auction.

West leads the 7; 3, 8, ace.

Over to you.

=============================================================================================

Problem Two

West
83
QJ743
A105
AQ3
South
J964
K
KQ96
10762
W
N
E
S

P
1N
P
2
P
2
P
2N
P
3
P
4
P
P
P

You lead a top diamond; dummy wins and plays a diamond back to East's jack and you win. Partner shows four diamonds.

You shift to a low club; dummy wins and cashes a diamond, East discarding a club.

Declarer ruffs a club to hand and plays a heart: king, 3, 2.

What now?

=============================================================================================

The two problems are taken from Kelsey's fine quiz-book, Challenge Match (1983). They are both typical Kelsey; counting and planning is the name of the game.

Solution One

West
J854
76
J9643
82
North
93
K953
AK
AJ1064
East
QJ1082
Q872
K953
South
AKQ10762
A4
105
Q7
W
N
E
S

1
1
2
P
2N
P
3
P
4
P
4N
P
5
P
6
P
P
P
D
6 South
NS: 0 EW: 0

Kelsey:

It looks as though you may have underbid this one. On the bidding East is virtually sure to have the king of clubs, in which case you should be able to squeeze him for thirteen tricks. There is always the possibility of a trump loser, however, and there can be no excuse for carelessness.

Suppose you cash a high trump and discover that West has a stopper. When you concede the trump trick West will be in a position to break up your squeeze whatever he returns. You will be stranded in dummy, unable to return to hand without destroying your heart menace.

To guard against accidents you should manoeuvre to discover the bad news of a 4-0 trump break in time to let West have the first trick in the suit. The right play is a diamond to dummy at trick two and then a spade from the table. If East follows suit you can win in hand. Now if West shows out you can cross to the second diamond and finesse in trumps with a good chance of thirteen tricks.

If East shows out on the first trump, however, you are in a position to duck the trick to West. No return can now hurt you. If West switches to a club, you go up with the ace, cash the remaining top diamond, and run the trumps to squeeze East. If West continues hearts or returns a trump, you just run the trumps, discarding clubs; from dummy to catch East in a ruffing squeeze.

=============================================================================================

Solution Two

West
83
QJ743
A105
AQ3
North
72
A102
8743
K985
East
AKQ105
9865
J2
J4
South
J964
K
KQ96
10762
W
N
E
S

P
1N
P
2
P
2
P
2N
P
3
P
4
P
P
P
D
4 East
NS: 0 EW: 0

Kelsey:

Declarer appears to have a 5-4-2-2 shape. Since he lacks the ace of hearts he must have the three top honours in spades to make up his tally of points. So far you can count two trumps and a diamond for the defence. Is there any prospect of a fourth defensive trick?

Put yourself in declarer’s shoes for a moment. To make sure of ten tricks declarer needs either to ruff another club in his hand or to discard dummy’s losing club on the third round of spades. But dummy is short of quick entries, and if partner’s third heart is the ten it may be possible to make things awkward for declarer.

A club return will not be good enough. After ruffing, declarer would just have to take the routine precaution of cashing two top spades, removing partner’s exit cards, before playing his last trump. You want to prevent the club ruff, and you can do this by placing the lead in declarer’s hand.

A spade return is what is needed. When declarer wins and plays a trump to the jack and ace, partner will play his second spade, locking declarer in hand and ensuring a fourth trick (either a trump or a club) for the defence. One further point could be vital. To avoid giving declarer a cheap entry to dummy, you should return a high spade, the nine or the jack, at trick seven.

===========================================================================================

Now, having got you in the mood for problem-solving, I will say that I think that declarer-play is generally regarded as easier than defense, for one's combined assets are known when declarer and not when defending. A bit more "vision" is required for defensive problems.

And that brings us to the poll.

Do you think it is possible for a given player to be a world-class defender, and yet not a top-class declarer?

In other words, can an expert player's forté be defense and not dummy-play?

Yes, of course a top-class player can be a great defender and not a great dummy player
No, this is highly unlikely
Not sure
Insufficient information
Other

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