The Real Deal


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Smooth

This deal was played in the 2012 Fort Lauderdale Regional.

In the Swiss teams, South held:

♠10 4   K Q 10 8 7 6   10 2   ♣K 9 2

He was in second seat, vulnerable against not and his right-hand opponent passed. Would you open 2?

This is the position where preempts should be super-sound (second seat, unfavorable). While this isn’t exactly K–Q–J–10–x–x, I think that the suit is quite good, and the side king gives me just enough to preempt. If I were not vulnerable or in first or third seat, this would be a no-brainer. I wouldn’t even need the ♣K.

After 2, LHO passes and North raises to 4, everyone passing.

The ♣3 is led and you can see that partner expected a lot from your second-seat preempt:

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

Perhaps partner was afraid to let the opponents find their spade fit.

In suit contracts, I like to think in terms of losers. This club lead is unfortunate. They are threatening to build a club trick before declarer can set up the diamonds. What if declarer
wins the club and plays a diamond? The defenders can win and play another club. Then, when declarer plays the next diamond, they have four winners: two diamonds, a spade and the club they’ve set up.

Furthermore, it looks like a 3–3 diamond break is needed, since declarer can’t draw trumps if dummy’s ♣A is not available as a late entry. Do you see any hope?.

What if the player who wins the second diamond is out of clubs? Declarer can hope that the defender with the doubleton club is the one who wins the second diamond. That might require misdefense (the defenders should, if possible, win the first diamond in the hand with the doubleton club and the second diamond in the hand with the winning third club). Even so, will declarer get rid of his spade loser, too?

All of these complexities can be eliminated with a simple tactical ploy. Envisioning big-time problems on this club lead, declarer has a neat move available. Knowing that defenders are
not always perfect, declarer should be prepared to play low from both hands at trick one! Why? When East wins his club (10, jack or queen) at trick one, he will expect his partner has made a
good lead. He easily might continue clubs, hoping to knock out the ♣A. If declarer started with three low clubs, this would likely be winning defense.

To pull off such a play, it must be done smoothly. After 20–30 seconds of thought (a normal amount of time), play low from dummy. East plays the ♣J, and declarer should nonchalantly
follow with the ♣2. Will East fall into the trap?

Here is the real deal:

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

After East wins his ♣J, there’s an excellent chance he will continue with the ♣Q, trying to establish a second club trick for the defense. Won’t he be surprised when declarer wins the ♣K, draws trumps and takes six hearts and four clubs for 620!