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Defensive Slip Spoils Good Lead

  by Richard Pavlicek

Today’s deal, from the Summer North American Championships in Las Vegas, spotlights the weak two-bid, a popular replacement for the old-fashioned strong two-bid. Bridge players love to bid, and weak twos occur about 10 times as often as strong twos, so it is only a matter of time before the old method becomes extinct. Weak two-bids apply in three suits (diamonds, hearts and spades) in order to leave an opening bid of two clubs to show a strong hand.

4 H South
Both Vul
S K Q 9 4
H J 2
D A Q 7 4
C A 9 5


4 H

2 H
S A J 8 5
H 8 5 3
D J 10 8 3
C J 10
TableS 10 7 6 3
H A 4
D 9 5
C K Q 8 6 4

Lead: C J
S 2
H K Q 10 9 7 6
D K 6 2
C 7 3 2

South’s two-heart opening showed 6 to 11 HCP and a six-card suit (being vulnerable, the suit should be of good quality). North gave a fleeting thought to placing the contract in notrump, but then wisely opted to raise to game in hearts (three notrump would be set two tricks with a club lead). Four hearts is an excellent contract with any lead but a club, but that is the lead West found.

Declarer made a good play by ducking the first trick, and the second club was taken by dummy’s ace. Needing to develop a fast discard, the spade king was led to West’s ace, and West returned… a diamond!

Everything was peachy now — the diamond lead was taken in dummy to discard a club on the spade queen, the heart ace was dislodged and trumps were drawn to make the contract.

West’s diamond return was based on the hope that East held the diamond king, but this was faulty reasoning. Declarer’s early spade play revealed his intentions, and West should have foreseen the need to find a quick entry to his partner’s hand before declarer could discard a club loser.

It seems unnatural for West to lead a trump around to declarer’s hand, especially when dummy has no ruffing threat, but that was the proper play. The only real hope was to find East with the ace of hearts.

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© 1985 Richard Pavlicek