Dormer on Deception

Part 2

If you missed part 1 of this series, it can be found here

In the first article of this series it was seen that declarer can sometimes persuade the opponents to continue or discontinue a suit by giving a high or low signal himself, just as he would if he were the partner of the leader. In this article we will examine some additional situations where declarer can make life very difficult for the opposition at trick one.

The following situation is very common. Let’s say you are playing at a contract of 2♠ and this is the layout of a side suit:

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

West leads the king, and you determine that among your several losers is at least one trump trick. You would, of course, like to get rid of one of your other losers on dummy’s jack in the suit led, but as you have no immediate entry to your hand, ducking the opening lead would not only be pointless but would allow West to find an effective shift in another suit.

So you put up dummy’s ace at trick one and East follows with the four. Now, if you want to try to lure West into making the wrong move when he next gains the lead, you should drop the six-spot, not the three. After West gets in with the trump trick, he may then lay down the queen, hoping that East began life with the 4-3 and can ruff the third round of the suit. West, of course, will shift when his partner follows with the five, but in the meantime your jack has become established and you are a step ahead.

Occasionally when you are playing a hand at notrump it may be your good fortune to receive a lead in your longest suit. Everyone is familiar with the following layout

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

wherein even the most undeceptive declarer, realizing that he has to lose at least one trick in the suit before it can be developed, would no doubt duck West’s queen at the first trick in the hope of encountering a continuation. (To win the opening lead and return the suit yourself is certain to get the opponents to turn their attention to some weaker chink in your armor.) But how many players would apply precisely the same principle to this setup?:

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

Again you are at notrump, your long suit not having been mentioned, and West leads the five. Rather than go up with the ace and clear the suit, you should play the eight from dummy and low from your own hand when East produces the nine! East will then return the suit in the belief that his partner holds five or six headed by the Q-J, and you have gained a tempo. (Of course, should it transpire that West has led from a three-card suit, you may have to don sackcloth and ashes.)

Here are two more examples of deceptive play which although they may appear ‘clever’, do arise in actual practice:

1.

Dummy
West 7 2 East
6 led J played
Declarer
A Q 5

2.

Dummy
West 4 East
5 led 10 played
Declarer
K J 7 2

South is at notrump and in each case is wide open in another suit. Provided he can arrange matters so that West, rather than East, gains the lead first, he should win the opening lead with the ace in (1), and with the king in (2). In both cases, West will assume that his partner holds the missing honor and will, upon gaining the lead, continue the suit rather than shift to another one. When he does, South will not only pick up a tempo, but will score the cheaper trick he passed up at trick one.

Less well known is the following situation:

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

On this layout South should, in most cases, win East’s nine with the queen regardless of which opponent is likely to win the first defensive trick. Why? Well, suppose East gains the lead first: then it will not matter whether you won the opening lead with the queen or the 10, since West can beat whichever of those cards you retained when East leads the suit through you. But suppose West wins the defender’s initial trick: he will not underlead his K-J if you won the first trick with the 10, but he may do so if you won it with the queen, playing his partner for the 10 and thus enabling you to score three tricks in the suit.

All of these deceptive plays at trick one have one thing in common. They require that you first make an overall appraisal of the deal to see what work has to be done; then you take a more detailed look at the suit led to see what possibilities, if any, are there, and whether these can fit in with your game plan. Don’t, however, allow yourself to fall into the trap of trying to be deceptive all the time, especially when you don’t have the necessary materials for such a play. Remember, the best magician in the world can’t pull a rabbit out of a hat if there isn’t already a rabbit in the hat.