New Orleans Deal 2

Author: Larry Cohen
Date of publish: 07/11/2007
Level: Intermediate to Advanced

A Thoughtful Defensive Play

On this deal from the 2007 New Orleans regional, my partner, Steve Weinstein, made a thoughtful play:

Vul: East-West
Dlr: South
?Q J 4 3
?J 7 3
?9 6
?Q J 10 9
?A 6 2
?A Q J 5 2
?A K 8 7
  ?10 8 6 5
?8 7 4 3               
?8 7 4 3
  ?A K 9 2
?K Q 10 9 8 4
?K 10
Steve   Larry Cohen  
2? 2? Pass 4?
Pass Pass Pass  


I was tempted to bid 4?, preemptive, but didn't think anything good could come from it. The opponents had already found their fit, and LHO would either have enough to bid 4? or not enough. If the former, my bid would just help him place the cards and maybe guess trumps. If the latter (or the former), it might goad partner into bidding too much.

Steve didn't double 4?, because such a double is not really for penalty. It would show "extra offense" and would invite me to take it out. Surely, with short hearts, I'd take it out and we would probably be trading a plus for a minus. Declarer seems to be off 4 tricks (3 aces and a second diamond trick), but not so fast.

What would you lead with Steve's (West) hand? I think a low trump is a standout. The goal (at IMPs) is down one (don't worry about leading the ?K to try for a club ruff for down two). There is no hurry to take tricks. Neither is there a reason to lead a singleton spade (you are most unlikely to find partner able to get in and give you a spade ruff). The only way the opponents might make this contract is by ruffing losers in the dummy, thus Steve led a low trump. Declarer won and played another trump.

At this point, a careful defensive play was required. Steve won his ?A and laid down the ?K to get count (I showed an even number). Now, Steve exited safely and sat back to wait for the setting tricks in diamonds. Notice the danger. If he had cashed no clubs (or tried to cash two clubs), declarer would have 10 tricks. On any non-club return declarer draws trump, cashes a few spades, then plays a club. West would win and be endplayed. He'd have to either play another club (setting up a discard), or break diamonds.

It doesn't seem like such a hard play to cash that high club early, but many defenders would have been lazy and minus 420 (our teammates made 590 on this board).