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Trickless Triumph

The trick to winning more tricks on defense is to have a trick up your sleeve to trick declarer — or something like that. On this occasion West was a real trickster, as he advertised his forthcoming trickery with a tricky double.

Problem
3 NT× S K J 7 4
H 9 8 7 5
D 6
C K 8 5 3
None Vul

West

1 D
2 D
Dbl


North

Dbl
3 C
All Pass


East

1 H
Pass


South
1 C
1 NT
3 NT
S A Q 9
H
D K J 8 7 5 4 3 2
C A Q
Table S 10 6 2
H A 10 6 4 3 2
D 10
C 10 9 7
Lead: D 7 S 8 5 3
H K Q J
D A Q 9
C J 6 4 2

After a routine diamond lead, how do East-West defeat 3 NT and teach South a lesson about overbidding? If it looks easy, note that declarer can also see all four hands and will duck the first trick, letting East win the D 10. This prevents West from establishing his suit, then the lucky lie of the black suits may allow declarer to succeed.

Plot the defensive trickery.

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Solution

After a diamond lead to the 10 (ducked by South), East must shift to ace and another heart, on which West jettisons the C A-Q. How’s that for a tricky start! South next leads a spade, and West must play the queen, won by dummy’s king.

Solution
3 NT× S K J 7 4
H 9 8 7 5
D 6
C K 8 5 3
Trick
1. W
2. E
3. E
4. S
W 2 L 2
Lead
D 7
H A
H 2
S 3
2nd
6
J
K
Q!
3rd
10
C A!
C Q!
K
4th
9
5
7
2
S A Q 9
H
D K J 8 7 5 4 3 2
C A Q
Table S 10 6 2
H A 10 6 4 3 2
D 10
C 10 9 7
S 8 5 3
H K Q J
D A Q 9
C J 6 4 2

When declarer next returns to hand with the C J (see ending), West affirms his devout trickability by tossing away the S A. Take that! Now declarer cannot set up both clubs and spades before East can set up his hearts. Note that East still has a stopper in both black suits. North
leads
S J 7 4
H 9 8
D
C K 8 5 3
S A 9
H
D K J 8 5…
C
Table S 10 6
H 10 6 4 3
D
C 10 9 7
S 8 5
H Q
D A Q
C J 6 4 2

When was the last time you doubled 3 NT and set it without taking a trick? Not lately I suspect, but West had to go trickless for the defense to triumph. With any other defense, declarer could maneuver to lose at least one black-suit trick to West and develop nine tricks (three spades, two hearts, one diamond and three clubs) while the defense is unable to develop a red suit.

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© 2003 Richard Pavlicek