Dangerous Opponents


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Declarer must often try to place the lead with one defender or the other: Only one defender may be able to make a damaging lead. “Avoidance” is the technique of keeping a “dangerous” defender from getting in.

Today’s declarer wins the first heart with the king. His contract looks safe, but say he takes the high clubs next, and West discards. Since the missing spades split 4-2, South can’t win four spade tricks, and if he concedes a club to set up dummy’s fifth club, East can lead the jack of diamonds. South will lose four diamond tricks to go down.

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

Opening lead — Q

Club Loser

The defense can never take four diamonds if the first lead comes from West. So South should lead a spade to dummy at trick two and return a club. When East plays low, South plays the nine, passing his club loser to West, the “safe” opponent.

If West shifts to a low diamond, and East takes the ace and leads the jack, South covers with the queen and loses only three diamonds. When he gets back in, he has nine tricks.

Daily Question

You hold:
♠ A K 6 4
6 3
8 2
♣ K Q 6 3 2
Your partner opens 1. The next player passes. What do you say?

ANSWER
The hand is worth forcing to game; it has prime values and a good five-card suit. Hence you can show the suits in the logical order: longest first. Bid 2♣. If partner rebids 2, you can bid a space-saving 2♠. If you respond 1♠ and clubs next, you will suggest longer spades and crowd the auction.