Opening lead: seven of spades
What can’t be accomplished by normal means can sometimes be accomplished by guile. Consider this hand where South stole his three-notrump contract.
West led a spade, and South realised there was no chance of making the contract unless he could get some help from the defence. So, he played low from dummy and, after East produced the nine, won the trick with the ace! This was the first step in a campaign to bamboozle the opposition.
Declarer next cashed the A-K of clubs, trying to look like a man who hoped the queen would fall on the first or second round of the suit. He then played the 10 of spades.
West grabbed the king and, under the impression that his partner had the club suit stopped, returned a low spade to dummy’s queen to establish his suit. Declarer thereupon gratefully discarded his queen of clubs and so made three notrump.
Of course, South was lucky to find the clubs divided 2-2, so that the chances of the ruse were increased, and he was equally fortunate to have encountered a gullible West.
If West had paid more attention to the cards his partner played instead of what declarer was doing, he might not have fallen prey to South’s scheme. East had played the 7-4 of clubs, in that order, as the A-K were cashed, indicating a doubleton in dummy’s long suit.
By interpreting East’s plays correctly, West would have been able to work out what South was up to and would no doubt have found the answer. A heart return, after winning the king of spades, would have left declarer without recourse, and he would gone down at least two.
The outcome points up once again the importance of signals that help the defenders overcome the natural advantage declarer has over the defence.
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