Join Bridge Winners
Unnecessary Dentist
(Page of 9)

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

E-W vul, West deals. As North, you hold:

North
102
J87
AQJ103
A86
W
N
E
S
P
?

Your opening 1NT range here is 10-12. 1 followed by 1NT would show 13-15.

Your call?

North
102
J87
AQJ103
A86
W
N
E
S
P
?

You have only 12 HCP. However, the is a very big 12-count. Two aces. Strong 5-card suit. Minor honors mostly in the long suit. This hand is far stronger in playing strength than the normal scattred junk partner will be expecting with a 10-12 1NT opener. It is clear to open 1 rather than 1NT.

You open 1. The bidding continues:

W
N
E
S
P
1
P
1
P
?

1: 11-15, 2+ diamonds

A 1NT rebid would show 13-15 HCP. A 2 rebid normally shows a 6-card suit, although with exactly 1-4-5-3 distribution your systemic rebid is 2 regardless of the quality of the suit.

Your call?

North
102
J87
AQJ103
A86
W
N
E
S
P
1
P
1
P
?

Your diamond suit is strong, and bidding 2 would not be a bad description of the hand. Still, you are balanced, and holding a doubleton spade, your shape is ideal for a 1NT rebid. As discussed, your hand easily evaluates to 13 HCP, so you do not have to avoid rebidding 1NT due to strength considerations. 1NT looks like the best rebid.

You bid 1NT. The auction concludes:

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

Over you go to partner's side to play it.

West leads the king of clubs. Standard leads and carding.

North
102
J87
AQJ103
A86
South
QJ7653
Q106
6
J92
W
N
E
S
P
1
P
1
P
1NT
P
2
P
P
P

Do you win or duck?

North
102
J87
AQJ103
A86
South
QJ7653
Q106
6
J92
W
N
E
S
P
1
P
1
P
1NT
P
2
P
P
P

Ducking has its attractions. You do hold the 2, and the opponents play standard carding. If you conceal the 2 North may continue clubs, and you would like that. Since you have the 8 in dummy you can afford to play the 9, concealing the 2, because if East does have the 10 the suit will now be frozen.

On the other hand, if West avoids the club continuation, you will not be able to play the club suit for 1 loser. You will need a second diamond trick, which is both awkward and dangerous. It is easier to simply play East for the 10. You can win the ace, and if the opponents never lead clubs again you can get to dummy with the ace of diamonds and lead a club towards your 9. West probably doesn't have a particularly attractive lead, and he would be leading a club from a KQ holding whether or not he has the 10. This looks like the best bet.

You win the ace of clubs, East playing the 3. What do you play at trick 2?

North
102
J87
AQJ103
86
South
QJ7653
Q106
6
J9
W
N
E
S
P
1
P
1
P
1NT
P
2
P
P
P

If trumps are 3-2 it probably won't matter how you play the suit, although if West has the long trump there is some danger of a trump promotion. If trumps are 4-1 you will need to find a singleton honor, and you must make sure that honor catches only small cards.

If West has a singleton honor, you want to lead first from your hand. If East has a singleton honor, you want to lead a small trump from dummy. There is no particular clue about this. Therefore, you might as well lead from dummy. Getting to your hand is awkward, particularly since you may need to lead a club toward your hand later on.

You lead a small trump from dummy. East wins the king, West playing the 4. East returns the 4. What do you play?

North
10
J87
AQJ103
86
South
QJ765
Q106
6
J9
W
N
E
S
P
1
P
1
P
1NT
P
2
P
P
P

There is some danger that East has 5 hearts, and that West can ruff the third round. If East can see that West's heart return is the smallest outstanding heart, East will know to give West a ruff. Howeer, if it isn't the smallest outstanding heart, East will not be sure what to play for. In order to potentially keep East in doubt, you should play your 10 on this trick, planning on playing the queen of hearts next. If West started with K9 or A9 doubleton, East will not know where the 6 is and might not give West a heart ruff.

You choose to play the 6. West wins the king, and returns the 5 to East's ace. Which heart do you play?

North
10
J8
AQJ103
86
South
QJ765
Q10
6
J9
W
N
E
S
P
1
P
1
P
1NT
P
2
P
P
P

East knows you have the queen, since if his partner had the queen he would have won with the queen instead of the king. Therefore, you might as well play the queen, since it is the card you are known to hold.

You play the queen of hearts. East returns the 5. You try the 9, and your luck is in as this forces the queen. West leads the 3 to dummy's jack, East playing the 2. What do you play now?

North
10
AQJ103
8
South
QJ765
6
J
W
N
E
S
P
1
P
1
P
1NT
P
2
P
P
P

You want to continue drawing trump. Before doing so, you might as well cash the ace of diamonds. This avoids any danger of getting stuck in dummy and being forced to find a safe way to your hand without promoting a trump trick for West.

You cash the ace of diamonds, and lead a trump. East wins the ace, West following with the 8. East plays a heart. You ruff high, draw the remaining trump, and claim. The full hand is:

West
984
K53
K852
KQ4
North
102
J87
AQJ103
A86
East
AK
A942
974
10753
South
QJ7653
Q106
6
J92
W
N
E
S
P
1
P
1
P
1NT
P
2
P
P
P
D
2 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
K
A
3
2
1
1
0
2
K
3
4
2
1
1
4
6
K
7
0
1
2
5
8
A
Q
2
1
3
5
9
Q
6
0
1
4
3
J
2
10
1
2
4
A
4
6
2
1
3
4
10
A
5
8
2
3
5
9
Q
9

How was the defense?

West
984
K53
K852
KQ4
North
102
J87
AQJ103
A86
East
AK
A942
974
10753
South
QJ7653
Q106
6
J92
W
N
E
S
P
1
P
1
P
1NT
P
2
P
P
P
D
2 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
K
A
3
2
1
1
0
2
K
3
4
2
1
1
4
6
K
7
0
1
2
5
8
A
Q
2
1
3
5
9
Q
6
0
1
4
3
J
2
10
1
2
4
A
4
6
2
1
3
4
10
A
5
8
2
3
5
9
Q
9

West's opening lead turned out to be costly, but that was unlucky. A trump lead was probably safe, but drawing trumps figures to be what declarer wants to do. The club lead is clearly both safer and more productive than either red suit, since it will do well if East has either the ace or the jack.

East's defense looks right. A club return can wait, since East has a couple of entries. The heart return might establish West's queen of hearts, and might pave the way for a trump promotion on the fourth round of hearts.

At the other table, the contract and lead were the same. Here, declarer chose to duck the opening lead. West shifted to a heart, and declarer had problems. However, eventually East led a club, resolving the club loser.

The ploy of cashing dummy's top winners in order to avoid getting stuck in dummy is called the dentist's coup, since the play extracts damaging exits from the enemy hands. On this deal it was an unnecessary dentist, since if the danger situation of West having A98x of spades existed, West would duck the 10 of spades and declarer would have to find a safe way back to his hand. Still, it couldn't cost and is a good technique to be aware of.

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