THUNDER BAY DBC
BRIDGE TIPS/ARTICLES
Low or High?"
Tip: If playing a low card instead of a high one can't hurt, and may help, play the low one.
The "tip" was not mentioned in this recent bridge column from the Chronicle Journal, but deserved consideration.
North-South were presumably playing "Standard", not two-over-one game force.
Dealer: East
Both vulnerable
              North
             ♠ QJ
             ♥ Q10963
             ♦ KQ83
             ♣ J8
   
West               East
♠ 1062            ♠ 9
♥ A4               ♥ J52
♦ Jl06             ♦ A9752
♣ Q10632      ♣ A975
             South
            ♠ AK87543
            ♥ K87
            ♦ 4
            ♣ K4
W      N      E       S
                 Pass  1S
Pass  2H   Pass  2S
Pass  3S    Pass  4S
All Pass
Opening lead:  ♦J
As reported in the column, East covered the diamond king and daringly switched to a low club, putting declarer to a guess. When South played low, he lost two club tricks and went down one.
The "tip" might have helped here. West's diamond lead is surely not from ace-jack, so why not play low from dummy? Ducking the jack can't hurt here, as a club lead from West can't hurt you, and you can always ruff out East's ace later for a club discard. Now East is put to the test: he has to overtake partner's jack if he wants to shift to a club. Not easy! For example, what if the layout was:
            North
           ♠ QJ
           ♥ Q10963
           ♦ KQ83
           ♣ J8
West               East
♠ 1062            ♠ 9
♥ A4               ♥ J52
♦ Jl064            ♦ A9752
♣ K1063          ♣ A975
            South
           ♠ AK87543
           ♥ K87
           ♦ -
           ♣ Q42
Now playing the ace on the jack would be fatal, allowing an unmakeable contract to come home.
A corollary to the "tip": holding this combination of king-queen-small-something in dummy and shortness in hand, it's usually best for declarer in a suit contact to duck if the suit is led, hoping to score two tricks later.
This tip is useful in many situations, whether declaring or defending, and should always be given careful consideration.
CROCODILE TEARS

Crocodiles"

A three-card ending in a no-trump contract at matchpoints, South to play:

North

♠ -

♦ J 6

♣ 2

West East

♠ - ♠ -

♥ - ♥ -

♦ 5 ♦ A 10

♣ Q 9 ♣ 10

South

♠ -

♥ -

♦ 8

♣ 7 6

South leads a club. If West plays the nine, East must win the ten and concede a trick to the diamond jack. As you can see, West must "swallow" partner's ten with the queen for E-W to score all three tricks.

This maneuver is aptly named a "crocodile coup". Not so easy when you don't see all the cards. But using clues from the auction and earlier play, the real-life West read the situation and did play the queen. Well done!

In a recent club game, an opportunity for this coup came up. This was the scenario:

East deals, neither side vul. Put yourself in West's seat, holding

♠ 7 3

♥ K J 10 6 3

♦ 10 8 4 3

♣ 9 8

The bidding proceeds

S W N E

- - - 1D

1S Dbl 2S 3C

3S All pass

Your aggressive negative double was motivated by the good hearts and fit for partner's diamonds--and being non-vulnerable! You lead the club nine:

North

♠ K J 8

♥ 8 7 2

♦ K 9 6

♣ Q J 5 2

West

♠ 7 3

♥ K J 10 6 3

♦ 10 8 4 3

♣ 9 8

Partner cashes the king-ace of clubs and leads the three to give you a ruff, South following with the four, six, and ten. Reading the three as suit-preference, you shift to a diamond. Partner wins the queen, South following with the jack, and plays his last club. Declarer ruffs with the spade ten, cashes the king-ace of spades, lays down the heart ace, and continues with the nine in this position:

 

North

♠ 9

♥ 8 7

♦ K 9

♣ -

West

♠ -

♥ K J 10

♦ 10 8

♣ -

It seems obvious to play the ten or jack, but stop and do some counting. Partner's hand counts out as 2=2=5=4, declarer's as 6=3=1=3. If declarer's hearts were ace-queen-third, why no finesse? Looks as if partner's remaining heart is the queen, especially as his three-club rebid would be a bit skinny without it. If you play the jack or ten, partner will be forced to overtake and concede a sluff-and-ruff, allowing declarer to escape for down one. So you rise with the king, and when partner drops the queen you cash the jack for down two. A "Crocodile Coup"!

The complete deal:

North

♠ K J 8

♥ 8 7 2

♦ K 9 6

♣ Q J 5 2

West East

♠ 7 3 ♠ 5 2

♥ K J 10 6 3 ♥ Q 5

♦ 10 8 4 3 ♦ A Q 7 5 2

♣ 9 8 ♣ A K 7 3

South

♠ A Q 10 9 6 4

♥ A 9 4

♦ J

♣ 10 6 4

 

East did well to lead the fourth club to kill the queen, but should have made it easier for you by unblocking the heart queen on the ace. A wily South holding ace-queen-third of hearts would have been counting your high cards. With nothing in spades, diamonds, or clubs, you must hold the king-jack of hearts to justify your negative double--so declarer would spurn the finesse and tempt you to be a crocodile. If you "brilliantly" rise with the king, South scores the queen and sheds a few "crocodile tears" at your dismay!

 

 

 

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