A Cunning PlanBy Paul BowyerSometimes when dummy appears it's too easy to think that the contract is just going to sail home without any difficulty. On these occasions it pays to come up with a cunning plan that may just upset declarer's apple-cart. Can you see the crafty defense on this deal?
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East-West reach 3NT and North leads the ♥J and dummy plays low. How should you defend as South?
Well, a brief piece of arithmetic shows that North has 0-1 point. So, given that he has already shown the ♥J, partner has not a stitch outside his Heart suit.
So, the only way to take five tricks on this hand will be to take two Clubs and three Hearts. The problem is that taking the ♥K and playing one back will be futile – there is no way of reaching the North hand. However, a cunning plan might well work… So the right defense is to duck the ♥J. Declarer could, you may think, recover by ducking this (actually, he can’t – a Spade switch is deadly), so he takes the ♥Q and sets about the Club suit.
You take the ♣Q and play – careful now – the ♥K to knock out the ♥A on table. Now, suddenly, the path is clear to reach partner’s hand in Hearts. A further Club is taken by your ♣A and you can play your last Heart to partner’s three winners.
Declarer could have made the hand by taking the ♥A at trick one – you have no defense to counter that. Should he have done so? Well, if you are one of these pairs whose opening leads include “strong Tens” (so you would lead the ♥10 from ♥K J 10 and the like) then Yes, he should. If the ♥J could be from ♥J 10 9 as well as ♥K J 10 9 then No, he probably should run the lead to the ♥Q.
West was unlucky to run up against you two in defense. Still, if you defend accurately all the time you will meet a lot of very unlucky declarers…
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