Mike’s Advice


1. This hand came from a tournament in India. It got a lot of press there and it deserves at least a mention here.

South, on the first hand of the tournament, playing with a new partner for the first time, picked up a nice hand.

Dlr: South ♠ 10 9 6 2
Vul: None 10 4 3
10 5 4
♣ A 9 4
♠ A 8 5 ♠ 7
J 7 6 9 8 5
8 7 2 A 9 6
♣ Q J 10 2 ♣ K 8 7 6 5 3
♠ K Q J 4 3
A K Q 2
K Q J 3
♣ —

South opened 1♣, Precision, only to hear the bidding continue with three passes. It was after North’s pass that South remembered he was not playing with a Precision partner. I guess this could happen to any of us.

Feel free to look at all four hands. How did South make 1♣, given he has to lose five club tricks and two aces?

South found a way that almost borders on credible. Here is what happened.

West led the 6 and declarer gave the mandatory “thank you” speech, without showing any visible remorse (could you?). South won the 10 in dummy and called for the ♣4. “I was playing for split honors,” he said later.

East saw no reason to play the king so he followed with the ♣3. South thumped his ♠K on the table and West, expecting South to play a club, thought South had played the ♣K. West followed suit with the two. When North asked South if he had any clubs, South said no. “Guess you don’t need any,” said North, still not sure of that was going on.

The upshot was that South took three hearts, two diamonds, and two(!) clubs. Making 70.

In the other room, South got to 4♠ and made an overtrick, for plus 450.

Had South gone down in 1♣, his side would have lost 500 points, or 11 IMPs. Making 1♣ meant his side lost only 380 points, which cost nine IMPs. Did the two IMPs saved prove to be useful? I did not hear that part of the story.

2. The second deal is deadly serious and it is just as real as the first hand. You are defending against 6♣.

Dlr: South ♠ A K 6 4
Vul: N-S K 7 6 3
6 2
♣ J 10 2
♠ J 9 8
Q J 10 5
Q 10 4 3
♣ K 3
West North East South
Pass 1 Pass 2
Pass 3♣ Pass 3
Pass 3♠ Pass 3NT
Pass 4♣ Pass 4
Pass 4 Pass 4NT
Pass 5 Pass 6♣
All Pass

Twenty-eight bids, if you wish to count them.

West led the Q. Get ready to defend.

Declarer won with the king in dummy, East playing the two. Next came the A K, followed by a diamond ruff in dummy. South came to his A and ruffed his last diamond, the jack, with the ♣10. Finally, declarer led the ♣J to West’s king. South had the rest, making 6♣.

Do you see a better defense?

In fact, there is a defense that has a chance. Try this, as was tried at the table.

When South plays the A K and ruffs a diamond, drop the queen. Yes, if South has the J, you have just set up his jack, but that is not fatal. Yet.

Dummy now leads the ♣J for a finesse. Do not take the trick. Let the jack win. West expects South will repeat the finesse and West will win and then give East a diamond ruff.

Here are the four hands:

Dlr: South ♠ A K 6 4
Vul: N-S K 7 6 3
6 2
♣ J 10 2
♠ J 9 8 ♠ Q 10 3 2
Q J 10 5 9 8 2
Q 10 4 3 9 7 5
♣ K 3 ♣ 8 5 4
♠ 7 5
A 4
A K J 8
♣ A Q 9 7 6

West tried the defense shown. Did it work?

Notice that South has the ♣A Q 9. When the first club finesse won and the 10 was led next, South realized that there was a chance, however small, that the defenders had defended in the manner that actually occurred. Regrettably, South had the will power to give up on a possible overtrick and he won with the ♣A. Right!

Now note how unlucky West was. If East had the ♣9 5 4 instead of the ♣8 5 4, South would have to consider the chance that East had four clubs to the K9, in which case the ♣A would be too dangerous a play.