Helen Sobel and Charles Goren

[ilink url=»http://csbnews.org/a-trick-or-two-by-helen-sobel/?lang=en»]Have you read… A Trick or Two by Helen Sobel?[/ilink]

There’s one type of defensive play constantly and indiscriminately employed by many players which really gets me down. My partner will have the top card in a suit which he knows I have no more of. Apparently because he’s afraid to set up a card or cards in the suit in dummy, he carefully hoards his high card and leads a low one in the suit for me to trump. Invariably, it seems, being forced to trump the suit takes away from me a natural trump trick which I would made anyway. Partner could have won his high card and I’d still have my trump trick left intact, buy his machinations have made the two tricks dwindle to one. Here’s the typical situation:


K J 5 4
J 9 5 3 2

A K 10 7 6 4
J 10 9 6
9 5
  Q 10 7

A 5 4 3 2
J 10 7 4 3

A 8 6 3 2
Q 8 
8 7
A 8 6 2


 South is at 4 and I am sitting East. My happy-go-lucky partner opens the K, and I play the 5 on it. He brilliantly deduces I have no more hearts and, fine card reader that he is, he knows South has the blank Q. What does he do?

He continues with a low heart for me to trump and my sure trick and his heart trick go together. My diamond ace would have been the setting trick  but now the contract is made.

Why does he do it? Is he scared that setting up the J by leading the A is going to make or break the hand? Can one heart discard for South possibly be just what the latter needs-particulary with dummy’s king-queen blank in both other suits? I think the only answer is that he wants to keep the A to take home with him that night and put under the pillow, expecting to breed more aces for him overnight.

Obviously there are times when retaining the high card of a suit and making your partner ruff instead is the correct play. But before trying it, be awfully sure of your ground.  Be very, very certain you’re not jeopardizing partner’s possible trump trick in so doing. If you are certain, from dummy’s holding and bidding, that partner cant have better than two or three small trumps, and if you have very obvious and distinct reasons for not wanting to cash your high card, first-and then only-try the play.