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Defensive problem from Senior Swiss Teams
(Page of 5)

West
75
J2
A1095
J10642
North
96432
7
J83
Q987
W
N
E
S
P
1
1
P
3
P
4
P
P
P

 

In the first day of the Truscott Senior Swiss Teams (current DC Nationals), you face this defensive problem.  This is my first "real" play/defensive article, so bear with this newbie.

You lead the J, partner plays a discouraging spot, and declarer wins the Q.  Next he leads the 5, you play the 10 (do you agree?), declarer ducks in dummy, and partner wins the K.  Now partner shifts to the Q, and declarer covers with the K.  What is your defensive plan?

West
75
J2
A1095
J10642
North
96432
7
J83
Q987
W
N
E
S
P
1
1
P
3
P
4
P
P
P

As is usual in imps, you ask "how can I beat this hand, where can we find 4 tricks?".  Why hasn't declarer started clubs instead of trumps?  If he had 5 spades he'd either have led one from hand or ruffed a heart to dummy to finesse partner's possible singleton K.

Besides, since you have no heart tricks coming, and it certainly appears declarer has a singleton club, and he can pitch a diamond from dummy on his A, things are looking grim.  You have to make some assumptions, starting with declarer overcalling on a 4 card suit and giving partner the A.  This is consistent with partner's dangerous shift.  Still, the A, A and partner's club are only 3 tricks.  If partner happens to have AK doubleton, that's the 4th trick, but then your defense is unlikely to be relevant.

So give partner A doubleton and AKx for starters.

West
75
J2
A1095
J10642
North
96432
7
J83
Q987
W
N
E
S
P
1
1
P
3
P
4
P
P
P

OK, now you think, maybe I should win my A and lead back a diamond for partner to ruff.  He could have started with 2-7-1-3 shape.

Or, could he be 2-6-2-3 and you must duck this trick.  How can you tell which to play for?

The answer is that partner has already told you which to play for, the "building a fence" concept.  If he had a singleton diamond and Ax, he would have cashed the A first to force you to win the diamond and play back one for the ruff.  He didn't do that.

So, the play at this point is for you to duck the K. 

West
75
J2
A1095
J10642
North
96432
7
J83
Q987
W
N
E
S
P
1
1
P
3
P
4
P
P
P

But, what if declarer now pitches a diamond on his A and leads the K?  Now it seems you may not get your ruff after all.

However, the ruff still works, it will now be an overruff since partner's 2nd spade will need to be the 10 or higher to beat dummy's ninespot.

 

West
75
J2
A1095
J10642
North
96432
7
J83
Q987
East
A10
K109643
Q6
AK3
South
KQJ8
AQ85
K742
5
W
N
E
S
P
1
1
P
3
P
4
P
P
P
D
4 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
...

and like any good partner, he comes through with that 10

So if you found the duck, well defended.

Partner's defense was correct.  He overtook the club because he could see that declarer had a likely singleton.  He knew his partner would have to have a diamond honor.  He could not know about the 10, so he planned his defense around partner not having that card (as it happens, passive defense would have prevailed when West owns the 10).  If declarer has the A, he has to guess whether the Q is a singleton (in which case he needs to win the A) or doubleton (now he must duck).  Perhaps declarer, if he trusts his RHO to be an expert, could use the same logic (defender did not cash the A so the Q is more likely to be a doubleton).

Yes, declarer could (should?) have prevailed by laying down a high spade at trick 2, since trumps are 2-2 and the AK ruff out third and the diamond suit is frozen (if East shifts to a low diamond, declarer has to guess to duck, not easy since he could easily be underleading his A... actually this defense is not double dummy after declarer starts the spades, since East can realize a diamond ruff isn't going to happen and unless his AK are cashing, the defense will need 2 diamond tricks right away).  Cashing the A first is dangerous since West may have the 10 and score it on the 3rd round of hearts if they are 6-2 as they were.

All in all, a very interesting and complex hand.  I was East.  Unfortunately, my partner did not get it right, he won the A Frown

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