Deceptive Play

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The deceptive play contained in today’s deal is of a recurring type. Its beauty is that it can never be a losing play, but…

By Ana Roth
On 13 August, 2015 At 20:43

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Ottawa Citizen – 16 Oct 1970

The deceptive play contained in today’s deal is of a recurring type. Its beauty is that it can never be a losing play, but can be (and frequently is) a winning play. The hand arose in a recent rubber bridge game in Washington. D.C.

Both sides vulnerable. South deals aa

Lead: club suit6

Had this deal arisen in an average bridge game, the play probably would have developed in the following fashion. Declarer would have put up dummy’s club suit10 on the opening lead, and it would have captured the trick.

Next would come the spade suitJ, and a finesse would be taken, losing to West’s king. West would now perceive the futility of continuing his club suit, since South would be known to possess both the ace and king. By a process of elimination, West would now shift to a low heart. The defenders would promptly cash four heart tricks, and declarer would incur a one trick set. The next deal would then be started, with not a word said about what might have been if South had played differently to the first trick.

When the deal occurred, our South declarer did put up the club suit10 on the open lead. But he did not allow the 10 to win. Instead, he captured the club suit10 with his own King!

He next entered dummy via the diamond king, and took the spade finesse, which lost to West’s king, West now took a long time before making his next lead.

Surely, thought West, declarer had started with exactly club suitAK doubleton, for had he possessed a low club, he would have won the opening lead with the board’s club suit10, instead of with his own king. And so, there being no attractive shift for West to make, he returned a club to drive out South’s presumed now singleton ace. To his surprise, the trick was captured by the board’s jack.

South’s “unnecessary” overtaking of the club suit10 with his king was a well designed stratagem: If the spade finesse lost, it would lose only to West. And West, reasoning that South had started with the doubleton club suitAK, might well continue with clubs. And so he did. Of course, if East had the spade king, then South would always fulfill his contract: three spades, four diamonds, and two clubs.


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