Author: Larry Cohen
Date of publish: 11/01/2022
Earlier in 2022 there was a charity fund-raiser for the ACBL Juniors. A generous donor contributed $1000 to the cause, and I was her partner for the (on-line) event. When I used to play a lot, I constantly gathered material for Real deals. This session didn't disappoint; here was Board 16:
East opened 1 and I overcalled 2 (yes, I could have doubled, planning to convert clubs to diamonds--but without discussion of something called "Equal Level Conversion Doubles" I didn't think I should risk it). West raised to 2 and my partner made a gentle raise to 3 (other raises were possible). East competed "LAWfully" to 3. Now what? I had a decent hand and considered doubling. But I tried 3 (maybe we had a spade fit). Since I had promised a good hand, partner might have boosted me to 5, but she contented herself with 4, where I played.
A spade lead would set up 3 easy defensive tricks, but on this auction, that was not possible. West led a heart to East's ace. East played the K and another. I ruffed low but didn't draw trump. This was matchpoints, and overtricks are valuable. If you picture the play, you will see that I would end up losing a trick in the wash (unable to trump everything). I played the K throwing a spaderom dummy. After the A and some cross-ruffing, I was able to claim 11 tricks.
Why is this a "Real Deal?" For one, the lessons in the bidding. For two, the lesson not to draw trump (even with 10 of them). But the final lesson is for the defense. East had no reason to play clubs at trick 2. Yes, that would be needed to set the contract if declarer had QJx, but declarer had shown spades and diamonds (and was marked with some hearts). Club length wasn't possible. However, club shortness was not only possible, but likely. On defense, when a trump shift might prevent ruffs, it is a wise strategy. In fact, if East shifts to a trump at trick 2, declarer has only 10 tricks (West wins the first round of clubs and plays a second trump). Notice that if South later leads a club from hand, West needs to step up with an honor to play the second round of tump.
About half the field played in five diamonds (often doubled). West led a heart and many East players fell from grace and failed to find the indicated defense.