DEPT. OF DEFENSE by Stephen Rzewski Problem #1: matchpoints North vul: none (dummy) ♠ J1082 ♥ 1097 ♦ AK9 ♣ Q64 West (you) ♠ K65 ♥ J5 ♦ 1076 ♣ AK873 bidding: W N E S pass pass 1♦ 1♥ 2♣ 2♥ (all pass) You start with the ace-king of clubs, partner following first with the jack, then the 10. You continue with the 8 of clubs (asking for a spade return). Partner ruffs with the 8 of hearts and dutifully returns the 9 of spades. Declarer pauses for a moment, then follows low, as you win with the king. Now what? ***************************** Problem #2: North (dummy) ♠ Q972 ♥ 865 ♦ K94 ♣ AK4 West (you) ♠ 543 ♥ QJ10 ♦ J86 ♣ J976 bidding: S W N E 1NT pass 2♣ pass 2♠ pass 4♠ (all pass) (1NT = 15-17 hcp) You lead the queen of hearts, and upon seeing dummy, reflect that in North’s place you would have eschewed Stayman and bid 3NT directly with the flat distribution. Partner signals encouragement with the 7, as declarer wins the ace. Declarer then draws trumps with the ace, king, and jack from his hand, partner following twice before discarding the deuce of hearts. Declarer then plays the ace-king of clubs and a low club to his queen, everyone following. Then he exits with a heart; you play the 10, and partner overtakes with the king before playing a 3rd heart to your jack, once again everyone following suit. What do you now play, looking at: ♠ Q ♥ --- ♦ K94 ♣ --- ♠ --- ♥ --- ♦ J86 ♣ J ************************** Problem #1: ♠ J1082 ♥ 1097 ♦ AK9 ♣ Q64 ♠ K65 ♠ Q94 ♥ J5 ♥ KQ8 ♦ 1076 ♦ QJ832 ♣ AK873 ♣ J10 ♠ A73 ♥ A6432 ♦ 54 ♣ 952 You should lead your lowest club, asking partner to ruff as high as he can, so as to achieve an “uppercut” and promote your jack of hearts. Partner figures to have two trumps remaining after the club ruff; if he holds either K-x or Q-x, declarer will be able to pick up the remaining trumps unless you make this play now. At this point, you are perhaps not being so optimistic about setting the contract, but it is matchpoints, and overtricks can be very significant in this kind of situation. As it is, partner’s trump holding is stronger than you anticipated, and your play results in scoring two more trump tricks instead of one, since if declarer gets in quickly, he can play ace of hearts and another, bringing down your remaining trumps together and scoring up his contract. Result: down one instead. Problem #2: ♠ Q972 ♥ 865 ♦ K94 ♣ AK4 ♠ 543 ♠ 108 ♥ QJ10 ♥ K742 ♦ J86 ♦ A1032 ♣ J976 ♣ 1032 ♠ AKJ6 ♥ A93 ♦ Q75 ♣ Q85 Playing the jack of clubs in the end position will give declarer a ruff-and-sluff, so you must break the diamond suit, but you must do so with extreme caution. Declarer has shown up so far with 14 high-card points, so you know precisely that he holds the queen of diamonds and partner holds the ace. If declarer has the 10, the party is over, so place that card in your partner’s hand as well. If you lead the 6, declarer will play low from dummy, and your partner will have to put up the 10 to force the queen. Declarer can now lead low to the 9 and force partner’s ace, losing only one trick in the suit. If you start with the jack, declarer may go wrong if he plays you for the 10, but if he reads the position, he can put up dummy’s queen. Partner can win the ace, but he will be endplayed by having to lead away from the 10 to dummy’s 9. It is critical that you lead the 8 of diamonds, the only choice that is foolproof. If the 9 is played from dummy, partner will cover with the 10, declarer winning the queen. If the 7 is played next, you must cover with the jack: the king and ace will be played over those cards, and your 6 will become the setting trick! For those of you who recall our previous column entitled “Surrounding Play”, you will see that the lead of the 8 is a play of that type, as declarer’s 7 is effectively surrounded and captured by your J-6.