Dormer on Deception

La Tromperie

 

The French word for trickery or deception is particularly apt when applied to bridge, for there are many cunning plays that revolve around the trump suit.

One of the most effective occurs when a defender pretends he can ruff a plain suit. The object is to persuade declarer to ruff high, thus weakening his trump holding.

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

West leads the K against 4♠. East can see that apart from the A K, there will be no tricks to take except in the trump suit, so he plays the 9. West continues the suit and on the third round South has to take a position. If East has a doubleton diamond and trumps are 3-2, South can make 11 tricks by ruffing with the king, but as the cards lie this play will hold him to 10 tricks.

The opportunity for this form of deception is very common, but of course you do not stand around waiting for such a trump holding as 10 9 x x. Suppose you have two small trumps. In this case your partner may hold the Jx, and the full layout may be something like:

Dummy
 West A K x x  You
 J x  x x
Declarer
Q 10 x x x

One declarer has been persuaded to ruff with the king, he will have a problem locating the jack. He is very likely to continue by taking the ace and finessing the 10, playing you for J x x.

A false echo is not the only stratagem that may tempt declarer to ruff unnecessarily high. For example:

Dummy
West 10 4 You
K Q J 7 3 A 5 2
Declarer
9 8 6

You are defending against a trump contract and this is a suit in which West has overcalled but which you have not supported. When West leads the king, you overtake with the ace and return the two. South can tell this is not a fourth-best, so, when West plays a third round, declarer may think he had better ruff high in dummy. Again:

♠ K J 9 3
Q J 10 4
Q 9 2
♣ 6 3
♠ 10 8 6 5 2
  A
  10 5 4
♣ J 9 7 2
 
 
South West North East
1NT Pass 2♣ Pass
2 Pass 3 Pass
4 All pass

West leads the 3 and South plays low in dummy, winning your 10 with the ace. He returns a trump to the Q and A. It is natural to attack clubs, as West may have the A Q, and the normal card for you to lead is the two. However, nothing is lost by returning the nine. If West can play three rounds of the suit, declarer is very likely to ruff high in dummy, as he has K Q J 10 in the combined hands and does not know about the 4-1 trump break. Now your partner may get a trump trick with 9 x x x.

Especially valuable at duplicate is a form of deception in which you try to persuade the declarer to abandon a winning finesse in the trump suit. This may often save an overtrick. In this diagram you are again East.

♠ Q J 8 3
K 5
K J
♣ A Q J 6 2
♠ 9 2 ♠ K 4
J 9 8 2 A Q 10 6 4 3
Q 10 4 2 A 7 6
♣ 10 9 5 ♣ 8 3
♠ A 10 7 6 5
7
9 8 5 3
♣ K 7 4
East South West North
1 Pass 2 Dbl
3 4♠ All Pass

West leads the 2 and dummy’s king falls to your A. As there is so little for West to have, you should place him with four hearts, in which case it is useless to play a second heart. There is very little to be lost by returning the ♣3. South may view this card with great suspicion, but the fact remains he will be endangering his contract if he takes the trump finesse. South will win the club in dummy and lead the ♠Q, but when you play low his native hue of resolution may become sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought. If he puts on the ace, viva your tromperie!