ACBL Logo South Bend Bridge Club
Home Page   Hand of the Month

 

WHY SACRIFICE WHEN YOU CAN BEAT THEM?

A Q 10 9
8 4 2
Q 7
8 7 6 2
5 2
Q 7 5 3
K 6 4 3
K 10 5
N
WE
S
WestNorthEastSouth
   1 ♠
Pass2 ♠3 4 ♠
PassPassPass
4 ♠ by South
Lead:  3

After partner overcalls at the 3-level white vs. red, do you pass? Or do you bid 5  as a sacrifice against their 4 ♠ game?

It is possible the best contract is a white vs. red 5  doubled sacrifice. But there are reasons not to succumb to the temptation of a 5  bid:

1. You have two spades. It would be much better to have one. Even if you held THREE spades, partner would be more likely to hold a singleton spade.

2. You hold two minor suit kings which have a good chance of both scoring on defense.

3. Partner may have stuck his neck out for his 3  lead director which may be the reason you beat 4 ♠, keeping you from making a trick costing minor suit lead or a trump lead that might skewer partner's hypothetical queen.

4. Due to the above, the declarer isn't necessarily making his 4 ♠ contract and bidding 5  may be a phantom sacrifice.

You decide to let declarer play 4 ♠ and led a low heart for your opening lead to your partner's  K, which wins. Partner plays the  A next, but declarer ruffs, plays the ♠ K from his hand and then a low spade to dummy's ♠ A (partner discarding a diamond on the second trump), ruffs dummy’s last heart, and then plays the  A and  10. You win the  K and it’s your lead to trick 8 in the position below. What do you lead?

Q 10
8 7 6 2
Q
6 4
K 10 5
N
WE
S

It appears declarer has eliminated both hearts and diamonds from his hand and dummy, forcing you to lead a club to avoid giving declarer “the dreaded ruff and sluff”.

But could this all be a mirage? We’ve all been told the importance of COUNTING and this hand is no exception. What do we know so far?

1. Declarer started with six spades and one heart.

2. Declarer appears to have started with  A10 doubleton. If he does hold more diamonds, he won’t hold the  J since he didn’t take a diamond finesse to avoid a diamond loser. If he is now out of diamonds, he started with four clubs and started with 6-1-2-4 shape.

3. The auction marks declarer with the ♣ A for his jump to game and there is a good chance he also has the ♣ Q for his jump to 4 ♠. Remember declarer jumped to game over his partner's 2 ♠ raise without inviting and only has shown 8 HCP outside his club suit. So there is a good chance declarer started with
♠ KJxxxx  10  A10 ♣ AQxx. If he holds ♣ AQJx, you can't score two club tricks to go with your heart and diamond tricks and therefore cannot beat 4 ♠.

Are you still afraid of giving declarer a ruff and sluff? DEFINITELY NOT! With declarer holding four clubs in each hand, giving declarer a ruff and sluff won't help him avoid a club loser. So lead a diamond back, NOT a CLUB, not caring if you are giving declarer a ruff and sluff - if you are, it won't help him! Later you will score the two club tricks needed to beat 4 ♠, all because you COUNTED and realized giving the ruff and sluff was better than leading a club into declarer's likely ♣ AQxx.

Here’s the full hand:

South Deals
N-S Vul
A Q 10 9
8 4 2
Q 7
8 7 6 2
5 2
Q 7 5 3
K 6 4 3
K 10 5
N
WE
S
8
A K J 9 6
J 9 8 5 2
J 9
K J 7 6 4 3
10
A 10
A Q 4 3
4 ♠ by South
Lead:  3

If you exited a diamond (or a heart), then you beat the 4 ♠ game - and had no reason to take the 5  sacrifice!

(An exercise for advanced players - show if South's clubs are ♣ AQ93 instead of ♣ AQ43, he can still make his 4 ♠ contract even if West correctly leads a diamond back at trick 8 and gives a deliberate ruff and sluff.)

Bud Hinckley
budh9534@gmail.com

 

     
 
email icon If you have questions or comments about our club please e-mail our Club Manager.
If you have questions or comments about our website e-mail our Webmaster
email icon
 
© 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 South Bend Bridge Club