Dormer on Deception

Deception by the Defense

Part 10

 

The primary objective of defense is to defeat the contract or, at matchpoints, hold declarer to the minimum number of tricks. Deceptive play by the defenders, falsecarding to be accurate, is vital in acieving this objective. Once you have mastered the “obligatory” falsecard situations, and once you have learned to release the high cards you are known to hold or those declarer will surely play you to hold, you are ready to examine some more exotic situations.

There are some cases where you can drop your high cards with abandon because you are in the can’t-lose situation. There are other instances where your failure to falsecard would leave declarer with no option but to adopt the winning line of play, so you deliberatly mislead him by playing a card other than your lowest with fraudulent intent.

Only a clod would play a true card in this situation:

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

This is the trump suit. Declarer leads low from dummy and plays the 10. You win with the ace or king, of course, not the jack. Declarer may waste a precious entry in another suit to get to dummy to take the “proven finesse” against your partner’s jack. In such situations you must be sure your defensive trick cannot disappear.

Deceptions which are safe and place no great burden on the little grey cells are common. Here again is the layout of the trump suit:

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

When the jack is led, it may suit you, of course, to play a normal game by winning the queen and going about your business. But you may also decide to improve the shinning hour with a spot of deception.

You could duck, for example, in which case declarer might continue with a second trump. Then you will have killed an entry. Had you won the first trick, declarer would have been able to get back to dummy in the trump suit.

Or you may win the first trick with the ace rather than the queen. Once again South may squander an entry in another suit in order to get to dummy for a second trump lead.

Many a good result has been produced with this combination.

♠ 9 8 4
A 6
K J 9 5 3
 (you) ♣ A Q 10
♠ A Q 5 ♠ 7 2
Q 8 4 3 2 K 10 9 7
Q 10 4 7 6 2
♣ 7 4  (declarer) ♣ K 8 6 3
♠ K J 10 6 3
J 5
A 8
♣ J 9 5 2

The contract was 4♠ and West led a club. The queen lost to the king and East returned the ♣8, a suit-preference signal asking for a heart. When a trump was led from dummy in Room 1, West won with the ♠Q, returning a heart. Now South was more or less forced into the winning line of play — go up with the A and take a finesse in diamonds, discarding the heart. South lost just two trump tricks and a club.

In Room 2 West won the first round of trumps with the ♠A. Now, when West returned a heart, South saw no reason to take risks, as 10 tricks would be safe if the queen of trumps could be picked up. But when South repeated the trump finesse, West won the ♠Q, put East in with a heart, and ruffed the club return for down two.

The scene changes. You are playing now in the world team championship. You are East, defending against 4♠ doubled on this hand:

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

West leads the 5 and you win with the ace as South drops the jack. You exit with a spade and South wins with the ace, returning a diamond to dummy’s queen.

Have you already girded yourself to duck with the A just as readily as you won deceptively with the king or the ace in the previous examples? Are you prepared to duck once more when South continues with the 8 from the table? Surely it would take a player of Garozzo’s class to duck deceptively — and smoothly twice!

Garozzo did play low twice and on the second round South decided to finesse the 9 — thinking it more likely that East had 10 x x x, with compensating high cards elsewhere, than that he ducked twice with the A. If East did have four diamonds to the 10 the finesse of the 9 would save a trick. However, in the actual case South lost two diamond tricks and was down 500 rather than the 200 he would have gone down if Garozzo had grabbed the A early on.

These examples of deceptive play may seem very different, but all are based on the same simple proposition: if you can infuse declarer’s thinking with a false set of facts he is likely to go wrong and misplay the hand. You need only to know that your trick cannot escape. You don’t even have to worry about what useful purpose you are trying to serve with your little deception. Don’t strain yourself unnecessarily — either you will be rewarded with an extra defensive trick or two, or you will be just as well off as you were at the start.

It no doubt took Garozzo a little time to work out his duck with the A . . . but not much. He knew South had several diamonds as he had bid them at a high level. It was also clear that South had nowhere to park them as Garozzo controlled the clubs. Finally, if South’s diamonds had been solid except for the ace, or if South had not taken a losing position in diamonds in the actual hand, East would still have made the A in the fullness of time as South could ruff only once on the table.

Garozzo is a very fast thinker indeed, but on this occasion he did not need to be — the thinking could be done without haste before leading a trump at the second trick.