Cross that bridge:

Don’t send a boy

By Al Peters and Al Spaet

Most of us have surely heard the saying “Don’t send a boy to do a man’s job.” This month’s hand shows how a seasoned defender applied that advice.

With regard to the bidding, East-West were playing a Two No Trump opening to show 20 or 21 high card points, and West was a point shy. But with a six card suit and excellent control cards, West believed an upgrade was in order (we agree) and opted to make that opening bid.  When East probed for a major suit fit and found none, the pair settled into Six No Trump.

West won North’s Spade lead in Dummy and counted ten top tricks.  Looking to develop two more, West hoped for some luck in Clubs and called for the Five from Dummy.  Five - Deuce - Queen - Three.  With eleven tricks now in sight and hoping for a 3-3 Club split, West cashed the Club Ace.  North played the Four, Dummy discarded the Deuce of Diamonds, and South dropped the King of Clubs rather than the Jack.

South was following the well known principle of playing the card you are known to hold.  This common falsecard gave West a serious problem. If the King was an “honest card” (that is, a card South had to play) then North started with four Clubs. If so, a third Club lead would be into the jaws of the Jack-Nine, for an automatic down one. With this in mind, West played King of Diamonds and a Diamond to the Jack instead, hoping for an on-side Queen to provide the twelfth trick. But our cagey South player grabbed the Diamond Queen and cashed the Club Jack to defeat the contract.

Playing a known card can often be used to disguise a player’s true holding - frequently with the goal of steering an opponent (whether declarer or defender) toward a losing option rather than a winning one, as here. If South had woodenly played “The Boy” (a nickname for the Jack) at trick three, West would have known it was safe to cash the Ace and probably score an overtrick! Watch for chances to make similar deceptive when they may gain an advantage, and involve little or no risk.

What of West’s play?  Should South’s deception have worked?  Well, no - not in this case. West could have overcome South’s trap with a little improved technique. West started to play correctly, but when the Queen of Clubs won at Trick Two, West should have continued with a low Club, not the Ace, from hand. West could then win any return, and only then cash the Ace to test for a 3-3 Club break before resorting to that risky Diamond finesse.