Andre Asbury

Want to Lead Trumps and Tap Dummy? Okay

Here is another interesting declarer play hand. Actually, now that I think about it, it’s really an interesting defensive hand, at least for the first 2 tricks. I was playing money bridge on BBO and was worried my robot would find a way to go down on this hand but it did not disappoint this time.

Dealer: East

Vul: NS

West East
8 AQ3
95 KJ8
J9643 KT75
KQJ92 T84
West North East South
1 1
3 X Pass 3
Pass 4 X Pass
Pass Pass

First of all, after the responsive double, what would you rebid with the south hand? I’m afraid I would bid 3. Playing in spades doesn’t appeal to me, for you’d probably have to trump in the hand with longer trumps. Here, 4 has little chance but 4 can make. Actually, if I had the south hand, I’d probably preempt 2 the first time but then I wouldn’t have a chance to score 790 to end an excellent day of money bridge.

The defense started with a spade to the ace and a club shift, which seems to be the best defense. They must lead trumps to prevent declarer from simply cross-ruffing the hand. Without a trump lead, declarer could come to 10 tricks via the 3 side suit aces, 3 club ruffs, and 4 trumps in dummy, losing a heart and the AQ of spades. However, the defense also must lead clubs to keep declarer from being able to draw trumps before working on hearts. If the defense continues with another spade or diamond, declarer can lose a heart to west’s K, eventually take a finesse for the ♠Q, and set up hearts by ruffing out the J, and get back to dummy with the K, while drawing the last trump, losing at most a heart and 2 spades. Some combination of these two defensive strategies must be best and spade ace and then a club is the only way to do this. I’m not sure I recall another hand where the best defense is to lead trumps once, and then tap the hand with shorter trumps.

This defense posed a problem for declarer as a second heart trick is now needed to make the contract, and he cannot get a second heart trick until trumps are in unless east started with 3 hearts and 3 spades and he gets a favorable heart lie. And he also cannot draw trumps until he’s lost all the heart tricks he can lose because the opponents would have a club or two to cash. So, after winning the ace of clubs, the robot declarer led the Q and ducked when east covered, and ruffed the club return. Now, a ruff to hand to lead a to the 10. Note that declarer cannot afford to ruff out the hearts to set the suit up because he needs the extra pitch for a club loser. When the 10 held, declarer, drew east’s annoying 3, cashed the heart ace, and led a good heart, pitching his last club. In reality, declarer could take the second heart finesse any time and play it on a cross ruff, taking the 3 side aces, the 10, 2 club ruffs in hand, and 4 trumps in dummy.

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