xmlns:w="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:word" xmlns="http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40"> Mountnessing Bridge Club

Mountnessing Bridge Club



Board 13: Beware of false gifts...



Hand played on 

26th July 2007

Board number 13





Submitted by

Alaric Cundy






























































Oh dear!  For the second week running, partner and I made a 'mechanical' error on board 13, in that, despite sitting in the South seat, the board was rotated by 180 degrees, so my reward was to pick up the rather splendid North hand shown.'


Partner and I were playing the 'Benji' style, so the 2 opening showed the equivalent of an ACOL 2 opener, and the 3NT rebid nominally showed a balanced 26-27 HCPs.  On a traditional ACOL style, the bidding is likely to go 2 2; 3NT end.  I would imagine that a sequence based on a 'Strong Club' style would also fairly rapidly come to rest in 3NT by North.  Rather surprisingly, two North / South pairs stopped short of game, and two others bid too high.  


With the clubs breaking well, there are nine obvious tricks.  The real 'battle' on this hand is over any possible overtrick - which could materialise either through defensive slip, declarer brilliancy, or a combination of the two.  


At my table, East found the unusual and highly deceptive lead of the Jack of Clubs.  At first sight, that is a nice 'gift' for Declarer, as it generates a potentially critical entry to a featureless Dummy.  For good measure, when a small club was played to Dummy's ten, the nine materialised, yielding a second entry.  Beware of false gifts, the saying goes!  


I used the first entry to Dummy to see if I could make an extra trick in the spade suit, so I led a small spade to the Jack.  That play gives an immediate bonus trick if West happens to hold both the King and Queen of spades, and it also opens up the possibility of making use of Dummy's 13th spade - two different routes to a potential 10th trick!  In practice, the trick lost to East's King.  East was on the ball, and killed the entry to the spade suit by returning the third club.  (Where did that come from? The initial lead of the Jack from Jxx?).  So now I was back in Dummy for the last time, and what would I do with it?  No one else in the room was likely to have had the chance to take the diamond finesse, so that is what I tried...  When that too lost, I was back to my nine tricks that I could have claimed when Dummy went down...


I could have tried a different track by playing spades from hand before using up Dummy's entries, but so long as East allows partner to win the second spade to fire a diamond through, that plan goes up in smoke.


Most Declarers made a tenth trick, and one obvious route to it is via the opening lead.  Against a bidding sequence such as the one shown, as East on lead you can expect to find very little in your partner's hand, and you should be looking for a 'safe' lead.  There is a very small chance that the lead of a diamond will gain your side tricks, but a very high risk that it will cost.  Similarly, the lead of a heart or a spade are also too risky (though, as it happens, neither actually damage your interests).  Personally, I would have led a small club from the East hand - but then partner and I would both have had to have been extremely careful thereafter!


After, say, the lead of a small club at trick one, Declarer may win in Dummy with the ten, try the diamond finesse, and once again he / she will be back to the nine basic tricks.  However, if Declarer just 'does the natural thing' by running off five top clubs from hand, the Defenders need to find some discards.  West may throw three diamonds, and East can afford a spade and a diamond.  Perhaps Declarer then cashes the top two hearts, the ace of spades,  and exits with the third heart.  Sharp defenders can still get to their four rightful tricks, but the chances that East might find himself / herself end-played and forced to lead a diamond into Declarer's Ace / Queen now increase quite dramatically, as East's last five cards are likely to be the King of spades, the Queen of hearts, and the King, Jack, and seven of diamonds, and to avoid the endplay East needs either to unblock or discard the King of spades, or to unblock the Queen of hearts under Declarer's Ace / King...


So in practice, even without an initial diamond lead, the chances of ten tricks are quite high - unless East offers a "generous" false gift at trick one!  Well done, especially to East, for getting this defence so right!  East / West went on to win the wine, and this defence illustrates how and why...