CROCODILTE BLOCK by Barry Rigal
A very unusual play problem arose in the next deal.
S 2 S K83
H KQ986 H T742
D AJ97 D K9632
C KJ3 C Q8
Both tables reached 4S doubled after South opened a weak 2S, and on the lead of the HK both tables took an immediate spade finesse. The unsuccessful declarer drew three rounds of trumps and ducked a club to East. But now two rounds of diamonds prevents declarer from establishing the club suit.
The successful, fortunate, declarer played a second trump to hand and ducked a club to East, who exited with the third trump. Now declarer simply ducked a club and claimed.
Of course the defense could have prevailed by playing two rounds of diamonds. Declarer then ruffs a heart to hand to reach this ending:
S -- S K
H Q9 H T7
D A9 D K6
C KJ C Q
When South leads a club, West can defeat the contract by rising with the CK! If declarer ducks, the defense takes a club ruff, and if declarer wins the trick he no longer has an entry to the clubs.
Declarer should have done better by winning the second trump in dummy at trick 3 and playing a low club from the table. However, if East hops up with the queen, he beats the contract. But if he ducks, the crocodile no longer works for the defense.
CHOOSE YOUR POISON BY BARRY RIGAL
If it seems that I am writing a lot about hands where my teammates did well, it is precisely because they did a bundle of excellent stuff. This deal shows Brian Platnick to good effect as declarer:
S T84 S J952
H Q952 H --
D Q92 D K64
C K72 C AJ9753
Against Platnick's 4H, West led a low club to East's ace. A club was continued and Platnick ruffed. He laid down the HA and got the bad news. Next he played the two top spades, ruffed a club and cashed the SA. This was the six-card ending:
S -- S J
H Q95 H --
D Q92 D K64
C -- C J9
Platnick led the S7 and West has a choice of losing options. If he ruffs high, Platnick discards a diamond and concedes a diamond. If West discards a diamond, Platnick ruffs the spade and runs the DJ, endplaying West in trumps. Probably West's best defense is to ruff low. Platnick can over-ruff and play a trump to his king, then exit a trump --forcing West to open up diamonds.