The Duck-it List — Part II by Mel Colchamiro

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This series began discussing reasons to duck. Let’s continue by looking at the so-called Bath Coup…

Mel Colchamiro 3
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Source: ACBL

The Duck-it List — Part I by Mel Colchamiro

This series began discussing reasons to duck. Let’s continue by looking at the so-called Bath Coup, a well-known strategy that is used mostly by the declarer. It involves a situation such as this:

KQ105 972

Suppose West leads the K against a notrump contract. As declarer, South should duck so that the defense can’t profitably continue this suit. What if the position is slightly different?

KQ105 972

Should South duck the K lead in this case? No! The J in the dummy is a guaranteed second stopper (and a winning trick), but only if declarer wins with the ace. If he ducks the ace, the defense will shift and wait until East gets in to lead another spade. That holds South to one trick in the spade suit. So, unlike the previous example, declarer can’t duck because the act of ducking destroys the second stopper.

Suppose the position is this:

KQJ982 4

Should declarer duck the lead of the K in this layout? The answer is no. By winning the A (the correct play) the 10 will act as a second stopper. Ducking the K will permit the defense to continue with a low one and establish the rest of the suit.

Here’s one more variation of the original layout:

K10862 Q4

If the defense leads the 6 and third hand plays the Q, should South duck? This one is tricky; the correct answer depends on the assessment of which defender could gain the lead. Suppose West is more likely to gain the lead. If declarer ducks, right-hand opponent will continue and the suit is established. When West subsequently gains the lead, she can cash her established winners. Therefore, it’s better to take the ace at trick one. In that case, when West gains the lead, South’s J5 will be a second stopper. Suppose, instead, that East is more likely to gain the lead. If South takes the Q with the A, when East gets in, he can lead a spade through South’s J5 to West’s K 10 8 2. If East is more likely to get in, therefore, it’s better to duck. When East gets in, he won’t have a spade to lead.

Let’s look at a complete deal as an example:

A Q 2
9 7 6
J 7
K Q 10 9 7
K J 8 6
K 10 8 2
8 6 4 2
10 9 4 3
Q 5 4
9 8 6 5 2
7 5
A J 3
K Q 10 4 3
A 5 3
West North East South
Dbl Rdbl Pass Pass
1 2 Pass 3
Pass 3 Pass 3NT
All Pass

The opening lead is the 2. It should be apparent from the bidding that West has the A. When East plays the Q, South should win the ace, and drive out the A. West cannot profitably continue hearts — the J3 is safe from attack.

Esta entrada también está disponible en: Spanish

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