When a defender, by the sweat of his brow, has succeeded in establishing a long card, it hardly seems wrong to cash it. However, nothing should be taken for granted at this game, and the fact is that the simple act of putting a long card on ice, temporarily, can represent a highly effective form of deception.
Study this deal, which was played in the 1973 world team championship in Brazil.
|Dlr: North||♠ K Q 10 8|
|Vul: None||♥ Q J 7|
|♦ 10 8 2|
|♣ K 8 5|
|♠ 9 6 4 3 2||♠ 5|
|♥ 8 3||♥ A K 9 2|
|♦ J 9 6||♦ K 5 4 3|
|♣ Q 9 2||♣ A J 10 4|
|♠ A J 7|
|♥ 10 6 5 4|
|♦ A Q 7|
|♣ 7 6 3|
*1♦ was a system opening since E-W were playing a strong 1♣ and five-card majors.
West led the ♦6, dummy played the two and East, who was our old friend Benito Garozzo, put up the king. South would have done well to duck but he won and led a heart. East returned a diamond and this time South played low, the jack winning.
West, Giorgio Belladonna, shifted handily to the ♣Q which was allowed to hold. He continued with the ♣9 which East won with the 10. East cashed the ♣A and exited with a diamond to South’s queen.
South had started out with six tricks and at this point he would had been well advised to cash them. However, placing West with the outstanding club (the jack) and no card of entry, he saw no harm in playing a second heart. If East had opened with a short diamond, the contract might still be made.
But when the second heart was led, Garozzo unexpectedly produced the ♣J as well as the 13th diamond, so South went down two tricks instead of one.
The nub of this hand occurred when East won the second round of clubs with the 10. Most players would have the proceeded to cash the ♣A-J — it simply would not have occurred to them to do otherwise. Garozzo, however, cashed only the card he was known to hold, the ace, leaving the position of the 13th club in doubt. The extra 50 which South eventually conceded was a direct consequence of that.
From this example emerges a principle of general application. One should not cash winners just for the sake of cashing them. When a trick cannot run away, it may be better to wait. By cashing you add to the declarer’s store of worldly knowledge; by waiting you leave him in doubt.
Of course, you must be able to count declarer’s tricks so you can be sure your own tricks do not wither on the vine. Here, Garozzo could see that South had only four tricks in spades and two in diamonds.
The principle applies even when a defender is able to cash the setting trick. In a previous series I gave this example.
|♠ Q 5 3|
|♥ K 9 8|
|♦ A J 9 7|
|♣ J 7 4|
|♠ J 9 8 6 2||♠ A 10 4|
|♥ 6 4 2||♥ J 10 7 3|
|♦ 10 8 2||♦ K 3|
|♣ A 6||♣ 9 8 3 2|
|♠ K 7|
|♥ A Q 5|
|♦ Q 6 5 4|
|♣ K Q 10 5|
South opens 1NT and is raised to 3NT. West leads the ♠6 and the 10 loses to the king. South attacks clubs and West wins the second round returning the ♠J.
Suppose South covers with dummy’s queen, the normal play. In with the ace, East can return a spade to defeat the contract, but if he does South will take the balance for down one.
East should note that no harm can come from exiting with a club instead of leading the third spades. He knows South had no more than four clubs originally, so there is nothing that South can cash that will embarrass East. There is now an excellent chance that South will take the diamond finesse in an attempt to make nine tricks. In that case he will go down two tricks.
There is another reason why it is sometimes right to hold back a long card. Sometimes when the defenders cash their book they may unwittingly help declarer by setting the timing for a squeeze.
Suppose the contract is 3NT and you are in a position to cash the fourth trick for your side. You should count declarer’s tricks. You may find he only has eight, and if you cash the fourth defensive trick you will bring about the classical position in which declarer can win every trick but one, a necessary requirement for many squeezes. By not cashing you may prevent the squeeze.