August 23rd, 2005

Weekly bridge column

                                  SURROUNDING PLAY 

			         by Stephen Rzewski

	     vul:  none


			             ♠ K75
                                     ♥ A8742
                                     ♦ AJ2
                                     ♣ 82

		      West                           East

	             ♠ AQ102                        ♠ 864
	             ♥ Q103                         ♥ K65
                     ♦ Q1043                        ♦ K976
	             ♣ 64                           ♣ A105

                                     ♠ J93
                                     ♥ J9
                                     ♦ 85
                                     ♣ KQJ973

	             bidding:   N       E       S       W
                               1♥       P      1NT      P
		               2♦       P       3♣  (all pass)
                                opening lead:  ♦ 3    

	 In an earlier column, we discussed the need to remember the correct way of 
playing certain complex or infrequent card combinations as an element of successful 
declarer play.  That principle applies to defense as well.  

	In today’s hand, South does not have the values to bid 2♣ at his first turn,
since that call would imply better overall hand quality.  So he started with a 
"forcing" 1NT.  In this style, it is understood that North’s 2♦ call may be based on 
a 3-card suit.  South might have reverted to 2♥ at his 2nd turn, but elected to play 
in his own suit because of its quality and length.  In fact, both contracts should be 
defeated, but the defense has to be careful to do so in each case.

	West’s spade holding was unattractive as an opening lead, so he chose a low 
diamond.  South played low from dummy, hoping to induce a mistake on East’s part:  if
the diamond honors were divided and East played high, declarer might have a chance 
to take a diamond finesse with dummy’s AJ and dump a loser.  But East got it right 
when he put in the 9, holding the trick.  He then continued with a low diamond to his 
partner’s queen and dummy’s ace.  Declarer led a club from dummy.  East ducked his 
ace, but won the club continuation and played a third diamond.  South ruffed and drew 
the last trump, leaving:

         			      ♠ K75
                                      ♥ A874
                                      ♦ -----
                                      ♣ -----

	    	      ♠ AQ10                        ♠ 864
                      ♥ Q103                        ♥ K65
                      ♦ 10                          ♦ 9		
                      ♣ -----                       ♣ -----
		                      ♠ J93
                                      ♥ J9
                                      ♦ -----
                                      ♣ 97

	South didn’t like his chances, but he saw one possibility:  if hearts were 3-
3, he might be able to establish a long heart in dummy and use the king of spades as 
a way to get to it if the ace was with West.  To accomplish this, he would have to 
duck a heart, then when in next play a heart to the ace, ruff a heart, lead a spade 
up to the king, and pray, as a lot of things would have to go right. 

        Declarer led the jack of hearts from his hand, and when West covered with the
queen, he called for a low heart from dummy.   West was slightly surprised to be 
allowed to win this trick.  He thought for awhile and figured out what South was up 
to.  Realizing that a heart or diamond return would be futile, he attacked spades by 
playing the ace and then the 10.  But South simply let this come around to his jack,
losing just one spade and making his contract.

	The key play that West needs to make when in with the queen of hearts is to 
play the QUEEN of spades.  This not only removes the entry to dummy for the long 
heart, but preserves two potential spade tricks for the defense.  This play is called 
a “surrounding” play, because once the queen is played to the king, the remaining A-
10 surround the J-x in the opposite hand.  This combination is a good one to 
remember, as it occurs with some frequency.

	East might have made it easier for his partner if he had returned a spade 
at trick #2. If a spade is led from East, however, West must be careful to put in the 
10, not the ace.

       *          *          *          *          *          *          *  

	Here are some other surrounding play positions, which you may want to confine 
to memory, as you will encounter them from time to time.  Put yourself in the West 
position, and decide how you should attack the suit:

                          KJ93                     A76


	If you lead low, declarer will play low from dummy, and partner will have to 
put up the ace or let South score his 10.  Instead, start by playing the jack.  If 
the queen is played, partner will win the ace, and his return will ensnare South’s 
10, which will be surrounded by your K-9, giving the opponents no tricks in the suit.

	However, the following position, with the same N-S cards distributed 
unevenly, must be treated differently:


                         KJ93                     A76


	In this 2nd case, if you are West and need four fast tricks in the suit, you 
must boldly start with the king, then play low to partner’s ace.  On the return, 
South’s 10-8 will be captured by your J-9.


                        KJ93                       764


	If you lead low, South will let this come around to his 10 and still preserve 
the winning A-Q in dummy.  Instead, start with the jack.  Dummy’s queen will win, but
if either partner or declarer plays the suit a 2nd time, you will cover the 10 with 
the king, making your 9 good, and the opponents will be held to two tricks in the 


                          Q1083                    K76(4)


	A low card from West will force partner’s king, should the deuce be played 
from the North hand, giving North a winning tenace position with the A-J over the 
queen.  Instead, start with the 10.  If the jack and king are then played, your Q-8 
will surround the 9 on the return.  

	Exchanging the queen with the king in the E-W hands would obviously amount to 
the same holding.  Also, if one exchanges the ace and king in the North and East 
hands, to leave:

                           Q1083                   A76


the lead of the 10 will have a similar effect, limiting the opponents to one winner 
in the suit.


                          Q1083                   K76


	Again, West must lead the 10 rather than a low card, if he wishes to limit 
South to one trick.

     5. The position in today’s column is:


                         AQ102                   864


	If West needs to attack the suit from his side, he must start with the queen,
allowing the king to win.  He then needs to wait for partner or declarer to play the 
suit next in order to score two tricks.