Jeff Lehman

THIS dummy is not strong enough?

Playing against two, well, rather unsophisticated players at a local club duplicate, we observed the following auction:

W
West
N
North
E
East
S
South
1
Dbl
1
Pass
2
Dbl
Pass
2
Pass
4
All Pass
 

North’s bidding box cards were presented quickly and with relish.  On the other hand, South evidenced a meekness about the whole situation.  (I am not insuating any intentional Unauthorized Information being communicated by North; only that North, unintentionally but noticably, probably violated Law 73A2 by her mannerisms.  Oh well, any violation was not relevant to the particular hand, I think.)

As West, I chose to lead a trump.

Dummy had the strength suggested by her bidding mannerisms:

 
N
North
AKQJ10
AQJ83
A
64
W
West
42
KQJ1083
AJ532
2

 

Declarer called for the Q, losing to East’s K.

East switched to the K.  Should I as West encourage continuation of clubs or discourage in hopes of receiving a spade switch which I could ruff with my lowly 4?  Thinking, perhaps unfairly, that: (1) partner might find it difficult to be thinking of the possibility of my ruffing a spade, looking at the quality of those spades in dummy; and (2) if partner has a doubleton club and was also dealt KTx of hearts, there might be a trump promotion from my winning the second club and leading a third round, I chose to encourage a club continuation.  Partner did continue clubs, with the Q.  This gave me pause and I switched gears.  Now I chose to play the J on this trick, hoping that might be treated as an alarm clock by partner.  Partner did, in fact, now switch to a spade and my ruff set the contract.  That leads to the title of this blog entry “THIS dummy is not strong enough?”.

Actually, I had missed par by not underleading my A (yeh, right) at Trick 1 in order to receive TWO spade ruffs!  The whole hand:

 
16
E-W
West
N
North
AKQJ10
AQJ83
A
64
 
W
West
42
KQJ1083
AJ532
2
E
East
9753
K6
764
KQ87
 
S
South
8642
10975
952
109
 

.

 

 


7 Comments

stuartApril 25th, 2017 at 12:56 am

at our table, after 1D opening bid, N bid Michaels (2D showing the majors). E passed and S bid 4S (pre-emptive). W bid 5C and N bid 5S. Unfortunately, 5S has no play and goes down 1.

Jeff LehmanApril 25th, 2017 at 11:13 am

5 of either minor is cold for EW, so, Stuart, perhaps North can reconcile 5S being defeated by saying “it was a good sacrifice!”.

Paul FlashenbergApril 25th, 2017 at 1:01 pm

On the lead of a small heart, declarer can simply win the Ace and lead another heart to make his contract. Did he really think that you were leading away from the HK?

Jeff LehmanApril 25th, 2017 at 1:42 pm

Paul, I think a heart lead away from the king would be pretty safe and possibly constructive in the shown auction. Safe, because the auction marks the strength with North and so the HA can be expected to be over the king. Constructive, because — while not true on the actual hand I hold, with its void in spades — it seems (to me, anyway) that declarer might have, say, only 3 hearts and 2 spades, and be planning on ruffing spades in hand in order to establish the suit and/or gain additional trump tricks.

Of course, on the actual lie of the cards, the line you suggest does land the contract. But that situation seems hard for me for declarer to fully anticipate.

Of course, with four spades herself, declarer should have been alert to the impending spade ruff should she lose the heart finesse. But, at matchpoints, just giving up on the heart finesse is not so easy.

Paul FlashenbergApril 27th, 2017 at 1:18 pm

East’s failure to bid 3C defies logic. With the HK well placed, it seems routine to me. You were left defending 4H, with as you say 5 of either minor being a make with the HA onside.

Robin HillyardMay 2nd, 2017 at 11:08 pm

“Defies logic” might be a bit strong, but certainly 3C would have been a lot better than pass, methinks.

Jeff LehmanMay 3rd, 2017 at 11:02 am

Is it so clear for East to rebid 3C?
Perhaps the comments above are correct, but consider: (1) the visible, audible reluctance of South ("meekness") to bid anything. Yes, the hand record discloses that the cause of reluctance is lack of HCP … but at the table East felt the cause of the reluctance could be the absence of four-card heart length … meaning West might be pleased to defend against hearts, the only unbid suit; and (2) West's failure to have supported clubs over North's second double.
Taking inferences from opponents' actions (assuming no coffeehousing) is at the risk of the player. The less-reliable is the opponent, the less confident can be the risk-assumer. Here, East's inference antenna malfunctioned!

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