SURROUNDING PLAY by Stephen Rzewski matchpoints vul: none North ♠ K75 ♥ A8742 ♦ AJ2 ♣ 82 West East ♠ AQ102 ♠ 864 ♥ Q103 ♥ K65 ♦ Q1043 ♦ K976 ♣ 64 ♣ A105 South ♠ 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: 1. Q42 KJ93 A76 1085 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: Q4 KJ93 A76 10854 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. 2. AQ2 KJ93 764 1085 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 suit. 3. AJ2 Q1083 K76(4) 95(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: KJ2 Q1083 A76 954 the lead of the 10 will have a similar effect, limiting the opponents to one winner in the suit. 4. J42 Q1083 K76 A95 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: K75 AQ102 864 J93 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.