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Choose Your Poison By Omar Sharif

North-South vulnerable. West deals.

Opening lead: J

The ruff-and-sluff has been stigmatized as a defensive crime. Although that holds true for a large proportion of the time, sometimes it can be a potent defensive weapon. Since the queen of hearts was of doubtful value, we think South’s jump to three spades was a trifle aggressive. With a six-loser hand game was unlikely unless North could act freely over two spades.

West led the jack of clubs, ducked to declarer’s ace. The queen of hearts lost to the ace and East returned a low diamond. Declarer elected to play the queen, losing to the ace. West reverted to the ten of clubs and the defenders took two tricks in that suit.

A red-suit return would have cost the defenders a trick (declarer would have allowed a diamond to run to dummy’s ten), and East was unsure of the trump position (if declarer had the ace and king of spades, the queen would be an entry to dummy).

East found a way to protect all the defenders’ equity by leading the 13th club. If declarer discarded a diamond from hand and ruffed in dummy, West would score two trump tricks by force. To prevent that, declarer ruffed in hand with the seven.

That proved no better, West allowed the declarer to hold the trick, shot up with the king of spades when declarer tried a low trump, then returned a spade. Locked in hand, declarer eventually had to concede a diamond for the setting trick.


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