HAVE BEENS'by Alan Hiron, Spain
The following hand contains a couple of interesting defensive points:
Game All. Dealer East.
WEST C Q963 EAST
S 843 S KT
H 862 H AQJT53
D QJ54 D T962
C A75 C 2
WEST NORTH EAST SOUTH
2H Dbl 3H 3S
Pass 4S All pass
A heart lead went to East's ten and, at both tables, East returned his singleton club. West won and, when he played another heart, it was all over. Mind you, even if West returns a club for a ruff, declarer is unlikely to get the trumps wrong in view of East's opening bid.
Was there a case for East to switch to a low diamond at trick two instead? Of course declarer can still get home by playing ace and another trump -- and perhaps he should -- but as the defenders have not yet tried for a club ruff, he might come to hand with a heart ruff and take a trump finesse. Now the club return kills the contract. The other problem -- probably discussed fully in some bridge books I have not read but new to me at the time -- was about the play of just one suit. It was distributed like this:
H JT42 H AK985
After the bidding 1NT - 3NT, West led the H2 and declarer played the HQ from dummy. It was clear at this point that declarer had plenty of tricks elsewhere, so the defense needed to cash five heart tricks. At one table East won with the king, cashed the ace -- and West failed to unblock. At the other table, after the same play to the first trick, East returned a low heart and the defenders took their tricks in comfort. East's play looks dangerous to me -- a shrewd declarer with HJ3 in hand might well have tried the queen from dummy. The problem for West, of course, is that he is reluctant to start an unblock in case his partner holds only three hearts.
Suggested solution? Win the first heart with the ace, then cash the king. This will surely alert West to the fact that he is expected to do something unusual.