If you can’t see yourself beating the contract by winning the trick, DUCK IT – even at the cost of a trick.  

Per-Olov Sundelin (Sweden)

 

 

Per-Olov Sundelin is one of the personable young Swedes – well, young as bridge players go – who have brought their country to the front rank, reviving the days when Kock-Werner, Lilliehöök-Anulf and, later, Wohlin, were the best in Europe. Having knocked on the door several times, Sweden won the 1978 European Championship in Denmark by a clear margin. The team was disappointed by its performance in the Bermuda Bowl later, where it finished third to the U.S.A. and Italy.

   Sundelin has represented his country consistently since 1963, captaining the team in 1972 and 1973. He has achieved fine results in the Pairs Olympiad, the Teams Olympiad, and the Sunday Times International Pairs.

   A system analyst by profession, Per-Olov is a great ‘party man’ and speaks English so well that he makes clever puns in the language! The deals he describes below are not inventions – they represent his own experiences in the Monte Carlo Olympiad. His tip, which begins on similar lines to that of Charles Goren in the first series, is entitled ‘Be Bold When You Are Defending’.

   You are all familiar with the situation where you sit over dummy’s K-Q-10 with A-x-x. When declarer leads up to the king you smoothly play low. On the next round declarer may go wrong, and at least you have spread uncertainty.

   ‘Some of you have fooled declarer by ducking with the king when sitting over A-Q-J-x-x. Perhaps the declarer then wasted an entry, or released a guard, to enter his hand for another finesse. Such plays are still more effective when the defender sits over the closed hand.

   ‘These are valuable – indeed, essential –stratagems. But they are seldom very risky or unexpected. In this field you haven’t really arrived until you are willing actually to sacrifice a winner: you must be prepared deliberately to give away a trick for the possibility of leading declarer astray.

   ‘This type of play is exclusively for the bold and courageous. In this diagram you are East;

South dealer.

East-West vulnerable.

 

 

 

ª

5

 

 

 

 

©

K J 4

 

 

 

 

¨

A Q 10 7 4 3

 

 

 

§

7 6 5

 

 

ª

Q J 8 7 6 3

N

ª

9 4

©

A 10 5 3

W                 E

©

7

¨

9 5 2

 

¨

K 8 6

§

-

S

§

Q J 10 9 8 4 3

 

 

ª

A K 10 2

 

 

 

 

©

Q 9 8 6 2

 

 

 

 

¨

J

 

 

 

 

§

A K 2

 

 

 

South                       West                        North                       East

1©                           1ª                           2¨                           Pass

3§                           Pass                         4©                           Pass

Pass                         Pass

 

   West leads the queen of spades. South’s problem is to take care of his losers in the black suits. The opposition bidding makes ruffing look risky, so declarer naturally thinks about the diamond finesse. If the jack loses to the king it should still be possible to hold the trump losers to two.

   ‘As East, you ought to have a perfect picture of the hands. In view of his three club bid, South is marked with §A-K-x. He must hold ªA-K and, since West did not pre-empt, one or two low spades as well. The odds, therefore, are that his hearts are headed by the queen; at any rate, you must assume this.

   ‘To resume: South wins the trick with the ªA and leads the ¨J. West plays the 2, showing an odd number, and dummy the 3. Your count is confirmed. You decide, quickly and without a flicker, that declarer will wrap up ten tricks quite easily if you play the obvious defence winning with the king and giving you partner a club ruff.

   ‘So you duck. You don’t know what will happen next, but you do know that with normal defence, the declarer will make his contract.

   ‘South now plays a trump to the jack and cashes the ace of diamonds, shedding a spade. The position is this:

 

 

 

ª

-

 

 

 

 

©

K 4

 

 

 

 

¨

Q 10 7 4

 

 

 

 

§

7 6 5

 

 

ª

J 8 7 6 3

N

ª

9

©

A 10 5

W                  E

©

-

¨

9

 

¨

K

§

-

S

§

Q J 10  9 8 4 3

 

 

ª

K 10

 

 

 

 

©

Q 9 8 6

 

 

 

 

¨

-

 

 

 

 

§

A K 2

 

 

 

South wants to enter his hand for a spade ruff. As the cards lie, he can play a diamond, but he may afraid that East will discard a spade on this trick. So South is quite likely to try a club – which turns out to be fatal when West ruffs and continues with ace and another trump.

   ‘In this fascinating game of bridge true daring can sometimes triumph against apparently against hopeless odds. Be willing, therefore, to provide declarer with a rope – even if there is no visible tree from which he can hang himself. My bridge tip is this: Be bold when you are defending. If you can’t see yourself defeating the contract by winning the trick, DUCK IT – even at the cost of a trick. By deceiving the declarer you may still cause his house of cards to collapse.

   ‘In my second deal South plays in three spades and again you are East.

 

East dealer

Neither side vulnerable

 

 

 

 

ª

8 5 3

 

 

 

 

©

10

 

 

 

 

¨

K J 5 2

 

 

 

 

§

A Q 10 8 3

 

 

ª

Q 7

N

ª

10 6 2

©

Q 9 2

W                 E

©

A K 8 4 3

¨

Q 10 9 7 6

 

¨

A

§

7 5 2

              S

§

K 9 6 4

 

 

ª

A K J 9 4

 

 

 

 

©

J 7 6 5

 

 

 

 

¨

8 4 3

 

 

 

 

§

J

 

 

 

 

South                       West                        North                       East

-                               -                               -                               1©

1ª                           2©                           3©                           Dble

3ª                           Pass                         Pass                         Pass

 

 

   ‘North’s bid of three hearts is an ‘unassuming cue bid’, signifying a sound raise to three spades.

   ‘West leads the ©2 to his partner’s king and East returns a trump, won by the ace. Deciding that a cross-ruff is unlikely to produce more than eight tricks, South runs the jack of clubs. If the finesse loses, he will still have chances.

   ‘As East, have you tried to plan ahead? What is declarer’s hand? You know he has five spades to the A-K-Q or A-K-J, and you place him with four hearts, because your style of defence is to lead third best from an honour combination. When you see partner’s §2, the count is complete. (If partner had held a singleton club he would have led it; also, with §J-x-x South would have played differently.)

   It is easy to see that if you take the club and return a trump, South will go up with the king, ruff a heart and play clubs, probably ending up with an overtrick.

 

‘Now see what happens when you duck the club and lead. South is sure to go for a cross-ruff, because he will think that it is safe to ruff clubs until the king appears. Four tricks later the position will be:

 

 

 

 

 

ª

-

 

 

 

 

©

-

 

 

 

 

¨

K J 5 2

 

 

 

 

§

Q 10

 

 

ª

Q

N

ª

10 6

©

-

W                 E

©

A 8

¨

Q 10 9 7 6

 

¨

A

§

 

              S

§

K

 

 

ª

K J 9

 

 

 

 

©

-

 

 

 

 

¨

8 4 3

 

 

 

 

§

-

 

 

 

 

 

   ‘Astonishment spreads over declarer’s face when dummy’s club is covered by your king. Whatever he does is defeated. If South ruffs, West overruffs and puts you in with the diamond ace. You continue hearts and your 10 of spades becomes the setting trick.

    ‘Once again, boldness pats dividends: If you can’t gain by winning, DUCK!’

   Players are nervous of ducking when they can see that their king, queen, or even ace, may never make, but the trick almost always comes back. Suppose a side suit is divided in this way:

 

A Q 10 6 3

 

8 5 2

 

K 9 4

 

J 7

 

South finesses the jack and East, seeing his partner’s 2, is afraid to hold up his king. But even supposing the declarer goes up with the ace on the next round and the ruffs the king, as a rule nothing will be lost: declarer will make four winners in the suit either way.

Sundelin’s second deal illustrates one of the most important principles in defence: be very reluctant to release a control in an important side suit. Suppose a suit is divided in this way:

 

K Q J 9 6 3

 

10 5

 

A 8 4 2

 

7

 

 

   When South leads low to the king you may create havoc by ducking. Declarer will follow with the king, then play a third round and ruff low, expecting the ace to fall from West. Instead, West will overruff the suit and will still not be established. If the worst happens – if the contract made and you find you could have defeated it by taking your top tricks – you can be sure that your partner will appreciate your good intentions.

 

If you can’t see yourself beating the contract by winning the trick, DUCK IT – even at the cost of a trick.