The Real Deal

This deal was played on Bridge Base Online and reported to me by my friend Arthur Jacobs. At team scoring, both vulnerable, the West players held:
♠ A Q 2     10 9 8   K Q 8 7 5 4     ♣ K
After two passes, South, your right-hand opponent, opens 1. This part is easy. You should overcall 2 — nothing else fits. North raises preemptively to 3 (how annoying), passed back to you.
Figuring partner for a singleton heart, it sure is tempting to bid. The opponents are on the three level with their nine‑card fit, and your side must have a fit somewhere. But what
can you do? If you double, partner is likely to bid 4♣ (you know how they always bid your short suit), and you’d be committed to pulling to 4. I don’t like it, but I suppose I would pass and defend.
I feel strongly that the opening lead should be a trump. It is safe and might also cut down on dummy’s ruffing power. There is no hurry to set up tricks. The player who held this hand,
however, led the K. I disapprove; this lead is dangerous and isn’t even likely to accomplish anything. Let’s step into his shoes and defend:

♠ K 10 5 4
Q J 4 2
J 9
♣ J 9 8
♠ A Q 2
10 9 8
K Q 8 7 5 4
♣ K

In my opinion, dummy is too heavy for a preemptive raise, so now I don’t agree with the opening lead or the bidding.

On your ill‑advised K lead, partner plays the 6 and declarer wins the ace. Declarer draws trumps in three rounds ending in hand. Partner throws an encouraging club, then another club. Advanced players will use that second club play to show current count — so, if you care, East indicates club
encouragement, then says he remains with an odd number of clubs.

Next comes a diamond and you win your Q as partner completes a high‑low with the 2. Now what?

Declarer seems to have started with A 10 3, in addition to his A K 7 6 5. With your ♠A favorably located for declarer, how might you set the contract?

Because partner likes clubs, let’s say you lay down your ♣K which holds. Then what?
Your best hope to defeat the hand is that partner has both the ♠J and ♣Q. If you play a diamond, declarer will throw a club loser from dummy. If you play ace and a spade, that won’t work either. This was the Real Deal:

♠ K 10 5 4
Q J 4 2
J 9
♣ J 9 8
♠ A Q 2 ♠ J 9 7 3
10 9 8 3
K Q 8 7 5 4 6 2
♣ K ♣ A Q 7 6 5 4
♠ 8 6
A K 7 6 5
A 10 3
♣ 10 3 2

So, do you see the winning play? Declarer won your K lead and drew trumps. When in with your Q
you had to cash the ♣K, but then you must shift to the ♠Q. This can’t really hurt, but look how it helps. Declarer has to take the ♠K in dummy, but now your partner has an entry. Declarer can’t profitably get to his hand to play the 10. He can’t cross with the last trump, so he must play a black suit. Partner gets in and the defense takes enough tricks for down one.

If you play anything other than the ♠Q at the key point, it’s minus 140 for you. Of course, had you led a trump like I wanted to, you never would have been in this predicament.

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