Jeff Lehman

Creative post mortem

Chronicling this debacle from a recent matchpoint club duplicate:



(1) an overbid, it seems to me, with more than 6 losers and plenty of defense
(2) takeout
(3) (after break in tempo).  I prefer 5♣.


Trick 1.  A, 6, 2 (discouraging), 2.  (1-0)

  1. 3, 8, 6, 5. (1-1)
  2. J, 7, 7, 4. (1-2)
  3. 3, T, K, 9. (1-3)
  4. 8, J, 4, A. (2-3)
  5. 2, 3, T, Q. (2-4)
  6. 5, J, A, 7. (2-5)
  7. 6, 8, 9, K. (3-5)
  8. 4, 2, Q, 8 (3-6.)

Claim ten tricks -590 for my side on defense.

Not waiting as long as I should, I complained to partner:  Why would you lead the A instead of Q?  (A pointed suit opening lead is best, but who could possibly project that?)  Even once you did, how can you continue hearts instead of leading pointed suits, taking me off the endplay? 

Partner responded:  Endplay?  Why did you not rise with the A and exit a club (because declarer could be on a KJ guess?)?  Could you not have led back the J instead of the 2 — this would, one would note, allow partner to win the third round of diamonds with the T (because you might hold the A and we could have three diamond tricks coming?)? 

And, why did you pass my takeout double anyway?

Well, I have to give partner credit for creativity in the post mortem.  But my feelings about the bidding and play remain as stated.


Mark WhitmanDecember 30th, 2015 at 5:51 pm

I have to side with your partner on this one. Yes, I know that take-out doubles are meant to be taken out, but making five clubs with those east cards looks a long way off. Better to try for four tricks on defense. And in practice that’s the right decision because both 4 !H and 5 !C should be defeated. It might be worth a bidding poll on bridgewinners.

And I also think you have to go up with the !C A on the first club play. Even if declarer is faced with a KJ guess, he’s almost sure to get it right. Partner has already shown up with the !H ace, so you’re almost certain to have everything else for your 4-level double.

Finally, you can still avoid the second end-play if you exit with the !D K (or J) after taking the !C A. You just have to duck the third diamond trick to partner’s hoped-for !D 10. Here it helps to know the opening bidder’s weak 2 style, because you’d feel silly if partner held the !D A as well.

Jeff LehmanJanuary 2nd, 2016 at 12:55 pm

Please note that this comment was totally re-written by me, replacing the earlier comment.

Hi, Mark,

Always good to hear from you. You have made many helpful comments to my blog in the past.

I did follow your suggestion by submitting the bidding question to BridgeWinners. The choice to pass was considerably more popular than the choice to bid 5C, (although some very good players did choose to bid 5C).

On the defensive issues, I beg to disagree with you, Mark. I think the relevant questions, at least initially, are: (1) with respect to my hand ducking the club, is there room in partner’s hand for the CQ?; and (2) with respect to my hand leading back a small diamond, is there room in partner’s hand for the DA? I think the answers to both the questions is a clear “yes”. Take a look at declarer’s hand and partner’s hand to see if the bidding might be the same if declarer did not hold the DA but did hold the CJ. That would give declarer this hand: xx, QT9xxx, xxx, KJ and partner this hand: J9x, Axx, Axx, Q9xx.

The secondary questions are: (1) would partner have defended as he did with the hand construction above?; and (2) would declarer have declared as he did with the hand construction above? Compared to the what happened at the table, again I would answer “yes”. Personally, I would lead a black suit with the constructed hand, but I would consider the CQ lead on the actual hand almost automatic, so that the absence of a black suit lead is more likely with the constructed hand than with the actual hand. If I were declarer on the constructed hand, I would tend to lead my other suits after drawing trumps and defer the club play until I had gathered more information, but I am not about to assume the same about the declarer at the table.

— Jeff

PhasmidJanuary 2nd, 2016 at 2:21 pm

Lots of good stuff to discuss here (see previous comments). I agree with the pass of the double (so I voted on BW before seeing this). To me it was “obvious” but I admit to having had to think a few seconds first — so I wouldn’t call it “automatic.”

If partner’s intent was to cut down on dummy’s ruffing power, why did he lead the HA? That card was very bad IMHO. Apart from the perhaps small possibility of you holding a stiff HK (I don’t know the opponents but they appear not to be experts), it yields control of the trump suit to declarer. Much better to start with a small heart (if hearts is your choice). And add to that the likelihood that he will see a helpful discard from you at trick one and will know what to do when he does come in with the HA.

Personally, I would have started with a spade on the auction (it doesn’t appear to matter which one). But it’s clear from the get-go that West is likely to be endplayed and that East won’t often be on lead. Really have to make it count, which is why the SJ is somewhat better than small. The danger of course is that West will think that East is trying for a ruff but West should not impute that motive in this case.

Given all of the early tricks, I think Mark is right that you should rise CA and get off the endplay. You no longer have the luxury of the duck.

Jeff LehmanJanuary 2nd, 2016 at 4:28 pm

Phasmid: “Given all of the early tricks, I think Mark is right that you should rise CA and get off the endplay. You no longer have the luxury of the duck.”

Not trying to be argumentative, but why?

Would you agree that rising with the CA at Trick 4 is critical under the following parlay: (1) declarer owns the CK; (2) declarer has exactly two clubs; (3) declarer plays the CK; (4) declarer owns the DA?

And would you also agree that ducking the CA at Trick 4 is critical under the following parlay: (1) declarer owns the CK; (2) declarer owns the CJ; (3) declarer plays the CJ?

Why is the first parlay more likely? Or is the question of parlays missing the point?

PhasmidJanuary 4th, 2016 at 2:36 am

“Or is the question of parlays missing the point?”

I think the issue of parlays is secondary. If declarer has the CK, it really doesn’t matter what other clubs he holds because he can ruff those loser(s) anyway.

The critical decision occurs at T4. My feeling is that the only thing that matters is to be left with a non-pointy suit exit card on winning the CA. Admittedly, you would still be OK in diamonds if partner has the DA but unfortunately in this instance, he doesn’t.

But the more I think about it, the more I dislike partner’s HA (or any H) lead.

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