Don't Get Discouraged

Author: Larry Cohen
Date of publish: 11/01/2011
Level: Intermediate

This deal comes from the South Florida IMP game. See if you can do better than a many-time National champion. He took his eye off the ball on defense when he held: ?K 6
?10 8 7
?10 6 5
?10 9 8 6 3.

His partner opened 1? and RHO doubled. Since he was vulnerable against not, he passed (maybe he would have raised to 2? or even a preemptive 3? at other colors).  LHO responded 1? and RHO jumped to 2NT. After a pass, LHO bid 3?, raised to 4?.

A low club was led and this huge dummy came down:


? J
? A K J 3
? K Q 8 2
? A K 5 2
  ?K 6
?10 8 7
?10 6 5
?10 9 8 6 3

What do you think of North's bidding?  He could have passed 1? and hoped to better describe his hand later (especially if he got to double spades). Anyway, with his 21 points, he chose to double. Over partner's 1?, he could have bid 1NT to show maybe 19-20. Bidding 2NT was taking the high road. Then, after partner's 3?, I think North should have passed, but he must have fallen in love with his ?J and raised to game.


Partner leads a low club, and you are dismayed when dummy plays low and declarer wins his (presumably) singleton ?J. It gets worse. A heart goes to dummy's jack and declarer plays the top clubs throwing diamonds. Then come the top hearts on which declarer follows once and then throws the ?J. There have been lots of jacks played.

Are you ready with your defense when dummy's ?J comes next? Should you cover an honor with an honor?

Not if you are focused. Declarer appears to have started with ?Jxx along with a doubleton heart and singleton ?J. He must have 7 spades. He is down to all trumps and your side still needs 4 tricks to defeat the contract. Can it be done? Yes, as long as you don't squander your ?K. A look at the full deal (although you should be playing almost double-dummy by now), shows why:


Vul: E-W
Dlr: West
?A K J 3
?K Q 8 2
?A K 5 2
? A Q 8
? Q 6 4 2
? A 9 4
? Q 7 4
  ?K 6
?10 8 7
?10 6 5
?10 9 8 6 3
  ? 10 9 7 5 4 3 2
? 9 5
? J 7 3
? J

Partner has just enough in spades so that your side can take four spade tricks. Declarer, facing 4 top losers, played low on the first club and in desperation finessed in hearts to discard all his diamond losers.


Then came dummy's ?J. If you play your ?K (as our anti-hero did), congratulations--you score your ?K and partner gets his ?AQ later for -420.  Much better is to preserve your ?K to do some damage.


Partner wins his ?Q (you had to hope he had AQx), and now comes the fun part. He plays the fourth heart and you trump with your ?K as declarer helplessly underruffs.


Then comes the coup de grace. You play a club and declarer is dead. Partner's ?8 (you had to hope he had either the ?8, 9, or 10) becomes the setting trick. If declarer ruffs low, partner scores his ?8 at once. If declarer ruffs with the 10 or 9, partner discards and sits back to get his ?8 at the end. This beautiful trump handling makes up for partner's unlucky opening lead. Next time, he will lead something else and you won't have to stay awake.