Join Bridge Winners
Reflex Duck
(Page of 9)

In a Round of 16 match in the Open Trials, you have to decide whether to continue to compete on a minimal hand.

None vul, South deals. As West, you hold:

West
AJ1074
A854
K1064
W
N
E
S
1
1
P
P
2
?

Your call?

West
AJ1074
A854
K1064
W
N
E
S
1
1
P
P
2
?

Partner doesn't appear to have spade support. It sounds like North may be sitting behind you with a spade stack. If this is the case, silence may be golden.

On the other hand, you are void in diamonds. It is virtually never right to sell out at a low level when you are void in their suit. They almost certainly have at least 8 trumps, quite likely 9. You might not have a fit in spades, but if you don't there is a very good chance that partner has club length and you can play there. Even if you don't have a great fit, the opponents are likely to have enough diamonds so you can push them to the 3-level. Neither side is vulnerable, the best vulnerability for aggressive part-score competition. Everything argues for a takeout double.

You choose to pass, ending the auction.

W
N
E
S
1
1
P
P
2
P
P
P

Your lead. Third and fifth leads. Suit-preference at trick 1. UDCA after that.

West
AJ1074
A854
K1064
W
N
E
S
1
1
P
P
2
P
P
P

Nothing is attractive, but leading or underleading one of your aces looks very bad. You have to lead a club and hope that it doesn't blow a trick.

You lead the 6.

West
AJ1074
A854
K1064
North
9863
102
A985
Q97
W
N
E
S
1
1
P
P
2
P
P
P

The 9 is played from dummy. Partner plays the 8, and declarer wins the ace.

At trick 2, declarer lays down the king of hearts. How do you defend?

West
AJ1074
A854
K104
North
9863
102
A985
Q7
W
N
E
S
1
1
P
P
2
P
P
P

Declarer clearly has a stiff ace of clubs. Partner's 8 should show something in spades, but you don't know exactly what that something is.

You can take it to the bank that declarer has the queen of hearts. If declarer doesn't have that card, leading out the king of hearts would be a pretty ridiculous play regardless of the rest of his hand. You can't know where the jack of hearts is, but likely you will need for partner to have it if you are to have any chance of defeating this contract.

It seems normal to duck the king of hearts and see what happens. However, before you make this reflex duck it is worth having a plan. Suppose partner does have Jx of hearts. Declarer knows that nobody is ducking with ace-doubleton, so declarer could well continue with the queen to try to pin the jack. You will win, but then what? A heart lead will be into declarer's 96 or 97. A club lead hands declarer the queen of clubs. A spade lead will be okay if partner has the king of spades, but it will be bad if partner has the queen and declarer the king. This would not be a happy situation.

It looks better to win the ace of hearts and return a heart. It is true that declarer is working on establishing his hearts, but you can't do anything about that. Now at least declarer has to make a play, and your 8 will hold up for the fourth round.

You choose to duck the king of hearts. Partner plays the 6. Declarer continues with the queen of hearts. You win the ace, partner playing the jack. Now what do you do?

West
AJ1074
85
K104
North
9863
A985
Q7
W
N
E
S
1
1
P
P
2
P
P
P

Declarer is known to have 5 hearts and 1 club. If declarer has 5 diamonds, it is hard to see how your side can come to 6 tricks. You should assume that declarer's shape is 3-5-4-1.

A club lead definitely gives declarer the queen of clubs. A heart lead establishes his whole heart suit. Partner can ruff, of course, but he will be ruffing with a natural trump trick while declarer discards a spade from dummy. The rest of the spades will be going on declarer's hearts while you sit by helplessly and watch as partner is ruffing away with his natural trump tricks.

A spade lead costs a trick if partner's singleton is the queen. If he has the king, a spade shift will be fine. If he has a small singleton, shifting to the jack or 10 of spades won't give declarer anything he doesn't have coming on his own. That looks like the best bet.

You choose to play the 8. Declarer ruffs in dummy with the ace of diamonds, as partner pitches a club. Declarer leads a small diamond off dummy. Partner plays the queen, and declarer wins the king. What do you discard?

West
AJ1074
5
K104
North
9863
985
Q7
W
N
E
S
1
1
P
P
2
P
P
P

You will probably have several discards coming. Partner wouldn't be playing the queen if he didn't have the honors to back it up, so he will probably be ruffing a heart and pulling trump. For now, you can easily afford a spade.

You pitch the 4. Declarer leads the 9, discarding a spade from dummy. Partner ruffs with the 2, and leads the 10, declarer playing small. What is your discarding plan?

West
AJ107
K104
North
986
98
Q7
W
N
E
S
1
1
P
P
2
P
P
P

Partner is clearly going to continue with the jack of diamonds and then lead a spade. You will need to keep a small club in case partner is winning the spade, so partner can then play a club without ruffing out your king. Also you need to keep 3 spades since declarer has 3 spades. The order of your discards won't matter.

You discard the 4. Partner cashed the jack of diamonds, and you discard a spade. Partner leads the queen of spades, holding. Now partner plays a club. Declarer ruffs, and plays his last heart. Partner ruffs, and you get the last two tricks for down 3. The full hand is:

West
AJ1074
A854
K1064
North
9863
102
A985
Q97
East
Q
J6
QJ1062
J8532
South
K52
KQ973
K743
A
W
N
E
S
1
1
P
P
2
P
P
P
D
2 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
6
9
8
A
3
1
0
K
4
2
6
3
2
0
Q
A
10
J
0
2
1
8
A
3
3
1
3
1
5
Q
K
4
3
4
1
9
5
3
2
2
4
2
10
3
4
8
2
4
3
J
4
7
9
2
4
4
Q
2
J
6
2
4
5
2
7
10
7
3
5
5
7
10
8
6
2
5
6
11

How was declarer's line of play?

West
AJ1074
A854
K1064
North
9863
102
A985
Q97
East
Q
J6
QJ1062
J8532
South
K52
KQ973
K743
A
W
N
E
S
1
1
P
P
2
P
P
P
D
2 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
6
9
8
A
3
1
0
K
4
2
6
3
2
0
Q
A
10
J
0
2
1
8
A
3
3
1
3
1
5
Q
K
4
3
4
1
9
5
3
2
2
4
2
10
3
4
8
2
4
3
J
4
7
9
2
4
4
Q
2
J
6
2
4
5
2
7
10
7
3
5
5
7
10
8
6
2
5
6
11

Declarer was correct to go after hearts, as that is his source of tricks. On this hand he would have been wiser to lead the queen of hearts, since then it might not be so clear for West to take his ace. He did well continuing with the king of hearts, pinning the jack. However, declarer completely lost the thread when he ruffed with the ace of diamonds. Had he pitched a spade, the defense could come to only 5 tricks. After having made that error and getting the bad news in trumps, the best he could have done was to ruff his good heart. This would allow him to get another trump trick and hold the damage to down 2.

Do you agree with South's bidding?

West
AJ1074
A854
K1064
North
9863
102
A985
Q97
East
Q
J6
QJ1062
J8532
South
K52
KQ973
K743
A
W
N
E
S
1
1
P
P
2
P
P
P
D
2 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
6
9
8
A
3
1
0
K
4
2
6
3
2
0
Q
A
10
J
0
2
1
8
A
3
3
1
3
1
5
Q
K
4
3
4
1
9
5
3
2
2
4
2
10
3
4
8
2
4
3
J
4
7
9
2
4
4
Q
2
J
6
2
4
5
2
7
10
7
3
5
5
7
10
8
6
2
5
6
11

South doesn't have an ideal hand for competing, but selling out to 1 isn't the way to win IMPs. Any of double, 1NT, or 2 might work well. The 2 call is certainly reasonable.

At the other table, South did choose to sell out to 1. Even though he was playing in a 5-1 spade fit, West was able to power home 8 tricks.

It's a bidder's game. Selling out to low-level contracts when the opponents are in a decent spot is losing bridge. Had West competed, East would have bid 3 which makes comforably. In addition, North would probably have taken the push to 3, which East would smash and collect at least 300 with decent defense.

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