Desperate defensive measures may be called for when the opponents bid very confidently. Our first deal comes from england versus Hungary at the World Bridge Olympiad in Istanbul.
as West, what would be your opening lead against six Hearts?
at one table, West led a wooden King of Clubs. Declarer won the ace, shedding a spade. With the rarity of having no trumps to draw, declarer ruffed a Club and led up the Knave of spades. If the King had lost to east’s ace, he would have had the Diamond finesse in reserve.
Here, West played low, but dummy’s King of spades won. Declarer had the luxury of the Diamond finesse, but made six when the Knave of Diamonds lost to the Queen.
at the other table, West reasoned declarer’s failure to use Blackwood probably meant he had a void, likely (looking at West’s hand) in Clubs. With desperate measures probably required to defeat the slam, West put the two of spades on the table.
Declarer did smell a rat. surely West had to have the ace to justify his takeout double, but he didn’t have the courage of his convictions and wasn’t prepared to look silly if West had found a more mundane lead from the Queen of spades. He played low from dummy.
He was soon kicking himself as east won the Queen and returned a second spade to West’s ace. Down one.
the ace-underlead against a confidently bid six is a known ploy in expert circles, but it’s such a gamble, most declarers pay off to it. However, the really classy expert declarer tries to have his cake and eat it. take the late Marshall Miles of California.
Would you believe West at both tables led the three of spades? One declarer played low from dummy without giving the matter much thought. east, however, did give the matter weighty consideration.
If West had led from Knaveseven-three (leaving declarer with ace-two), wouldn’t declarer have played dummy’s eight if he needed a third spade trick?
When he didn’t bother to do so, it couldn’t be wrong for east to play the Queen. and it could be very, very right, if West had found the ace-underlead. east won the Queen and was soon leading back to West’s ace. Down one, declarer muttering something unprintable under his breath.
When Mr Miles was declaring, he wasn’t prepared to play West for the brilliant ace-underlead, but instead of the casual low spade from dummy, he carefully called for the eight, creating the impression that he was finessing against the nine, seeking an important third spade trick holding ace-two in hand.
east fell for the bait, smugly covering the eight with the nine. Declarer swooped on the trick with his Knave, drew trumps, discarded his second spade on a top Diamond and, to rub salt into eastwest’s wounds, finessed east for the Queen of Clubs (King and low to the Knave) to secure his overtrick.
Being right when you’re wrong is one of the great skills of the winning player.