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Clever Play Would Fool Anyone

  by Richard Pavlicek

The old proverb that concludes, “… you can’t fool all of the people all of the time,” is indisputable, but declarer’s play on today’s deal would come close. I doubt that there is a defender in the world — experts included — who would not be fooled.

4 S South
E-W Vul
S A J 10
H 8 6 5 2
D K 3 2
C 9 8 2


2 S
4 S
1 S
3 S
S 6 2
H Q 10 9
D Q J 10 9 4
C A 10 4
TableS 5 4 3
H J 7 3
D 8 7 6
C K Q J 3

Lead: D Q
S K Q 9 8 7
H A K 4
D A 5
C 7 6 5

The bidding was simple. South opened in his five-card suit, North raised to two, South bid three to invite game, and North took the plunge to four. Fancy bidders take note: Simple bidding is often the winning strategy because it gives away little information to the opponents.

West led the diamond queen. Declarer has nine sure tricks — five spades, two hearts and two diamonds — and the only real prospect for a 10th is to establish dummy’s fourth heart, which requires the outstanding hearts to be three-three. The problem is that as soon as declarer gives up a heart, the opponents will be able to cash three clubs to set the contract. Translation: There is no legitimate way to make this bid.

An average player might win the diamond ace, draw trumps, and play ace, king and another heart. Alert defenders then would see the need to switch to clubs — down one.

A better player would be more deceptive: Draw two rounds of trumps ending in dummy, then lead a low heart and duck the trick to West. Unaware of the heart situation, West may continue diamonds; then declarer can unblock the top hearts, cross to dummy in trumps, and discard a club on the last heart. But this line of play looks suspicious, and a competent West player would see through it.

Stop! Decide how you would play before reading further.

Take full credit if you ducked the opening lead. I defy anyone who tells me that West would shift to a club. He will surely continue diamonds, then it’s all over. Win the ace, two top hearts, two spades ending in dummy, diamond king (pitch a heart), ruff a heart, spade to dummy, and the good heart is your 10th trick. Easy game.

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© 1989 Richard Pavlicek