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The Power of the Falsecard

  by Richard Pavlicek

The falsecard, or deceptive play, is a valuable weapon. As declarer, this tactic may be employed with impunity, since there is no concern about fooling partner (the dummy takes no active part in the play).

As a defender, however, the falsecard must be used with discretion. Defenders must rely on each other’s plays whenever there is a defensive decision to be made. If your partner is a wanton falsecarder, you may as well have no partner at all.

Today’s deal, from a local club game, illustrates the power of the falsecard.

3 NT South
None Vul
S 6 4 3
H K J 3
D A K J 2
C J 6 5


3 NT
1 NT
S J 10 8 7
H 10 7 5 2
D Q 10 7
C 7 3
TableS 9 5 2
H A Q 9
D 8 6 5
C Q 10 9 8

Lead: S J
H 8 6 4
D 9 4 3
C A K 4 2

After South’s rather lopsided (but eminently correct) one-notrump opening, North quickly raised to game.

West led the spade jack, and declarer led a diamond at trick two. Instead of following low, West played a diabolical 10 and declarer finessed dummy’s jack. The diamond king was cashed and West continued his deception by dropping the queen.

These plays had the effect of establishing South’s nine as a winning card, thereby convincing declarer that diamonds were not divided three-three.

Quite naturally, declarer led a diamond to his nine, noting with particular displeasure that West followed to this trick. Declarer still could have made the hand (cashing the top spades before leading a heart would endplay East), but he was not up to any brilliancies. He led a heart to the jack-queen, won the spade return, and tried a heart to the king and ace — down one.

The opportunity for West to falsecard was well chosen. It passed two important tests: (1) it would not mislead partner — the exact diamond situation was not critical to East, and (2) it contained a purpose — declarer was given a losing option in the play of the diamond suit.

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© 1984 Richard Pavlicek