P.O. Sundelin

1976 Bols Bridge Tip by Per-Olov Sundelin: Be Bold When You Are Defending

» If You can’t see yourself beating the contract by winning the trick, DUCK IT – even at the cost of a trick».

P. O. Sundelin
P. O. Sundelin

A systems analyst by profession, P. O. is a great party man and speaks English so well that he makes clever puns in the language!. The deals he describes below are not inventions; they represent his own experiences in the Monte Carlo Olympiad.

He is Sweden’s best known player, has represented his country consistently since 1963, having won two European Championships and been placed third in three Bermuda Bowls. He has won the Sunday Times twice, in 1978 and 1981, both times in partnership with Tjolpe Flodqvist.

 You are all familiar with the situation where you sit over dummy’s K-Q-10 with A-x-x. When declarer leads up to the king, you play low smoothly. On the next round, declarer may go wrong, and at least you have spread uncertainty.

Some of you have even fooled declarer by ducking with the K behind the A-Q-J-x-x. Perhaps the declarer then wasted an entry, or released a guard, to enter his hand for another finesse sits over the closed hand.

These are valuable, indeed essential, stratagems. But they are seldom very risky or unexpected. In this field you haven’t really arrived until you are willing actually to sacrifice a winner: You must be prepared deliberately to give away a trick for the possibility of leading declarer astray.

This type of play is exclusively for the bold and courageous. In this diagram you are East:

Dealer South, E/W vulnerable, Teams

K J 4
A Q 10 7 4 3
7 6 5
Q J 8 7 6 3
A 10 5 3
9 5 2
  9 4
K 8 6
Q J 10 9 8 4 3
  A K 10 2
Q 9 8 6 2
A K 2










Pass 4 Pass Pass

Contract: 4

West leads the Q and South’s problem is to take care of his losers in the black suits. The opposition bidding makes ruffing spades look a risky, so South naturally thinks about the diamond finesse. If the J loses toK, it should still be possible to hold the trump losers to two.

As East you ought to have a perfect picture of the hands. In view of his 3 bid, South is marked with: A K x. He must hold A K and, since West did not pre-empt, one or two low spades as well. The odds, therefore, are that his hearts are headed by the Queen; at any rate, you must assume this.

To resume: South wins the first trick with A and leads the J. West plays the 2, showing an odd number, and dummy the 3. Your count is confirmed. You decide, quickly and without a flicker, that declarer will wrap up ten tricks quite easily if you play the obvious defence of winning with the K and giving your partner a club ruff.

So You duck. You don’t know what will happen next, but you do know that with normal defence the declarer would make his contract.

South now plays a trump to the J and cashes the A shedding a spade. The position is:

K 4
Q 10 7 4
7 6 5
J 8 7 6 3
A 10 5

Q J 10 9 8 4 3
  K 10
Q 9 8 6

A K 2

South now wants to enter his hand for a spade ruff. As the cards lie, he can play a diamond, but he may be afraid the East will discard a spade on this trick. So South is quite likely to try a club – which turns out to ve fatal when West ruffs and continues with A and another trump.

Fernando Lema & P. O. Sundelin
Fernando Lema & P. O. Sundelin

In this fascinating game of bridge true daring can sometimes triumph against apparently hopeless odds. Be willing, therefore, to provide declarer with a rope, even if there is no visible tree from which he can hang himself, My bridge tip si this: » Be bold when you are defending. If you can’t see yourself defeating the contract by winning the trick, DUCK IT even at the cost of a trick. By deceiving the declarer you may still cause his house of cards to collapse.»

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By ferlema