REVERSE PSYCHOLOGY by Stephen Rzewski Often during the play of the hand, the defense will be in a quandary as to which suit it should be attacking. Sometimes when declarer plays on a particular suit, a defender may assume that it is contrary to his side’s interest to continue on that suit and may therefore shift to another. This is a natural and logical human reaction, which is frequently correct, but occasionally declarer can exploit this tendency to his own advantage. Playing in a Regional Open Swiss against one of the top pairs in New England, I pick up: ♠ 973 ♥ AK10852 ♦ J106 ♣ A Neither side is vulnerable, and I am in 4th seat. The dealer passes, as does my partner, and RHO opens 3♣. I have an easy overcall of 3♥, and my partner raises me to game. The bidding has been: P P 3♣ 3♥ P 4♥ (all pass) LHO leads a small club, and the dummy proves to be a huge disappointment: ♠ J64 ♥ QJ93 ♦ 832 ♣ KQ4 ♠ 972 ♥ AK10852 ♦ J106 ♣ A Who would have guessed all that duplication in clubs? Well, at least they didn’t annihilate me right off by cashing their six winners in diamonds and spades. I can throw two of my losers on the king and queen of clubs, but that still leaves me one down. It is tempting to simply concede that result and save some time and anguish, but even when facing what looks like a hopeless situation, one should always look deeply for any chance, no matter how slight, especially since there are teammates involved. Is there any way I can actually bring home this dreadful contract? Interestingly, I probably can infer more about the lie of the honor cards in the two weak suits than the opponents can about each other’s holding. For instance, if LHO had a holding such as AK in either, he would likely have led one in preference to a club. That would mark my RHO as a favorite to hold at least one high honor in each of those suits. Since he has club length, he will have shortness in one or more suits outside of clubs. Obviously, if I am to make this contract, I will need some mistakes from the defense, but a small ray of hope is beginning to show itself. After winning the club lead, I play the ace of hearts, everyone following, then lead a low heart to the queen. On this trick LHO follows, and RHO discards the jack of clubs, which is probably intended to show strength in spades. I now cash the two high clubs, discarding low spades, on which both opponents follow. So RHO had only six clubs to the J10 for his pre-empt. This is not all that surprising, since many players make tactical pre-empts in third seat which will depart significantly from the normal sound textbook pre-empts. At this point, I lead a diamond from dummy, deliberately playing the suit I fear most. RHO plays low—I now have to hope, among other things, that he started with a doubleton honor—and since I want to give the impression of strength, I play the jack from my hand. LHO wins the queen, and thinks for a bit. Eventually, he makes the play I am hoping for: he puts the ace of spades on the table, and continues with a spade to his partner’s queen. I ruff this in hand, lead a heart to dummy’s jack, then lead dummy’s last spade and ruff in my hand, leaving: ♠ ---- ♥ 9 ♦ 83 ♣ ---- ♠ ---- ♠ 5 ♥ ---- ♥ ---- ♦ A97 ♦ K ♣ ---- ♣ 10 ♠ ---- ♥ K ♦ 106 ♣ ---- Now I simply lead the low diamond out of my hand, and the defense is snookered. If LHO plays low and allows his partner to win the king, that hand will be end-played into giving me a ruff and sluff. And if LHO attempts a “crocodile coup” by playing the ace to swallow his partner’s king, my 10 will be established. Obviously, RHO made a serious error when he failed to play the king of diamonds on the first lead of the suit, not anticipating the end position. LHO might also have saved the day by heeding his partner’s earlier signal and underleading the ace of spades, so that his partner could win the trick and unblock his king of diamonds. Luckily for declarer, LHO had to follow to both hearts, since if he held the singleton, he would have undoubtedly signaled with a high diamond on his first discard, making it easy for his partner to unblock the king. The full deal: ♠ J64 ♥ QJ93 ♦ 832 ♣ KQ4 ♠ A108 ♠ KQ53 ♥ 64 ♥ 7 ♦ AQ975 ♦ K4 ♣ 875 ♣ J109632 ♠ 972 ♥ AK10852 ♦ J106 ♣ A At the other table, third hand opened only 1♣, my hand overcalled 1♥ and was given a single raise to 2♥ by his partner. This became the final contract, with the same club lead. When the dummy came down, declarer decided to simply claim nine tricks, a bit smugly, as our teammates reported, since he felt he had stolen the contract, as the defense could have set him off the top.