|Hand of the Month|
TRICK 2 DEFENSE - OBVIOUS SHIFT
This deal is Board 6 played on August 3, 2015 at South Bend Bridge Club as part of The Common Game.
You are West and lead the ♥ A. Using standard signals, partner plays the ♥ 5 and declarer plays the ♥ 8. What do you lead at trick 2?
Trick 2 decisions are often vital. What do you know at this point?
1. Partner has played his lowest heart (discouraging).
2. Partner's 3 ♥ raise usually will include at least three hearts.
3. With the threatening club suit in dummy, partner knows a spade shift may be necessary if he does not hold the ♣ K, because either declarer holds the ♣ K or you hold it and club finesses will work for declarer.
4. If declarer holds the ♣ K and the ♠ A, a shift to the ♠ K often will not cost any defensive tricks because declarer's spade losers were going to disappear on dummy's club suit.
You need to trust partner would not play his lowest heart (discouraging, and implying interest in the "obvious shift suit", clearly spades in this case) if his spades were only ♠ 9-high. He should hold the ♠ A so confidently shift to the ♠ K at trick 2 expecting partner to encourage spades. Partner's ♠ A is the third and setting trick for the defense.
If partner does not hold the ♠ A or ♥ K, he should play some heart OTHER than his lowest heart on the opening lead.
Here is the entire deal:
Of the eight pairs at SBBC who defended a diamond contract, none of them cashed out their three top tricks and twelve tricks were frequently scored by declarer. Would you have done better and scored a top?
TIPS FOR ADVANCED PLAYERS
1. If North had declared 3 NT with a ♥ 9 lead by East, seeing seven likely diamond tricks in dummy plus declarer holding the implied ♥ Q means this is no time to duck your ♥ A, as there is too much chance of losing it at matchpoints.
2. If South declares 3 NT and both opponents bid and rebid their minors strongly, West should be tempted to lead the ♥ A due to the possibility of losing it (which this time, if a lower heart is led instead, would occur).
3. It is possible at this vulnerability East may have raised to 3 ♥ with a doubleton ♥ K, possibly with a hand like ♠ 98xx ♥ K5 ♦ xxx ♣ Kxxx and with the ♥ Q in dummy, East will have to play the ♥ 5. But the chance of this specific hand is small, and also requires declarer to have falsecarded with the ♥ 8 holding ♥ 986.
4. Holding the ♥ K, a fitting ♣ K in partner's suit, and knowing a diamond finesse if needed likely will work, at matchpoints especially South should bid 3 NT.
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