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A Counterintuitive Duck

Imagine this scenario. West opens  3 and you are declarer in, say, 4 . West leads  K and this is your heart layout:

 K led  -------

Assuming West has seven hearts, you’ll almost certainly be better off withholding dummy’s  A. East has a void heart — and will ruff away dummy’s  A. Instead, let West win  K and keep back  A to enjoy once you’ve drawn East’s trumps.

Board Teams
South Deals
None Vul
A 8 7 2
7 5 2
A 8 7 6 5
K Q 5 4
K 3
Q J 10 9 2
8 7
W   E
J 10 9
8 6 4
K Q J 10 9 6
6 3
A Q J 10 9
K 4
A 5 4 3
West North East South
Pass 1  3 1 Pass
Pass 3  Pass 4 
All pass      
  1. Weak jump overcall.
4  by South
Lead:  Q

Today’s deal comes from a Gold Cup match and features fine play by Grazyna Wrobel of London. West chose to lead the queen of diamonds, rather than one of partner’s clubs. Declarer won the king and played the ace of clubs and ruffed a club. Now what?

Declarer needed to delay drawing trumps in order to ruff her two remaining clubs. But how to get back to hand? Tempting though it was to try the ace of diamonds, with a view to reaching hand via a diamond ruff, to do so would have been fatal. East would have ruffed and promptly returned a heart, leaving declarer no way home.

Declarer correctly thought it was highly likely West began with five diamonds —  QJ109x feels a more attractive lead than partner’s clubs. That left East with no more diamonds. At trick four, declarer found the key play of leading a low diamond from dummy, conceding an apparently unnecessary trick.

East discarded a club and West won the nine of diamonds, switching to the king of spades (unable to lead a heart from his side). Declarer won dummy’s ace and, with the cross-ruff set up, could now lead the ace of diamonds.

East ruffed and declarer overruffed. She ruffed a third club (West discarding a spade — ruffing with the king no good), and ruffed a fourth diamond (East discarding a club). At trick nine, declarer ruffed her fourth club, West discarding a (low) spade.

Declarer had garnered eight tricks and had to score two more from her remaining  AQJ. An unexpected overtrick materialised (because West discarded a low spade). Declarer ruffed dummy’s fifth diamond and, at trick 11, exited with her spade. West won the queen and had to lead from  K3 round to  AQ. Game made plus one — lovely.

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