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Three ducks in a row

Do you know how many collective nouns there are for ducks (the feathered variety)? We have a bunch, a paddling, a raft, a safe, a skein, a sord, a sore, a  string and a team. Nine.

The defence put up a veritable paddling (my favourite of the above list) of ducks* on today’s deal from a Gold Cup match.
(*To duck at the bridge table means not to win a trick when able)

South Deals
Both Vul
♠ 8 7 3
K J 6
J 7 4 2
♣ K Q 5
♠ K 9 4
Q 10 9 3
K Q 9 5
♣ A 6
West  East
♠ 10 6
A 5 2
10 8 3
♣ 10 9 8 4 3
  ♠ A Q J 5 2
8 7 4
A 6
♣ J 7 2
West North East South
Crouch   Forrester  
      1 ♠1
Dbl2 2 ♠3 All pass

Contract: 2 ♠ by South
 Opening Lead: 10
  1. Playing Five-card Majors and a strong Notrump. Playing a Weak Notrump, I prefer to open 1NT than 1 ♠, thus avoiding the need for a rebid.
  2. Would prefer to have one fewer spade and one more club, but passing is rather supine, something Peter Crouch has never been known for.
  3. Know eight card soade fit, but perhaps better to redouble nonetheless to convey the defensive values.

The Play:

West did well not to lead the king of diamonds v 2♠,  preferring the top of his internal heart sequence. Declarer tried dummy’s jack and now came Duck No.1 East, Herefordshire’s Tony Forrester, was unwilling to use his only high card at trick one, before he knew what to do next. He ducked dummy’s jack of hearts – smoothly too so that no one would know he held the ace (including his partner – an important lesson in ethics). At trick two declarer played a trump to the queen and now, equally smoothly, came Duck No.2.

West, Surrey’s Peter Crouch let declarer’s queen of trumps hold the trick. He expected declarer to repeat the finesse and a cunning plan was beginning to form. Declarer, unaware of the danger that lurked, led a club towards dummy to repeat the trump finesse and now came Duck No.3 – West played the six and let dummy’s queen win.

At trick four declarer led a second trump to his jack and now the three ducks reaped dividends. West won his king of trumps then cashed his ace of clubs to void himself (on which East played the ten as a suit preference signal for the higher-ranking hearts).

West duly led the queen of hearts, covered by king and ace, whereupon East led a third club for West to ruff. West now cashed the nine of hearts and exited with the king of diamonds. Declarer won the ace but there was no way he could get rid of his second diamond. West’s queen of the suit had to score and that was the sixth defensive trick. Down one.

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