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Seeing through your opponents cards

This deal comes from the Harrogate Pairs and features as South the deductive powers of our very own Jack Stocken who with Lorna Heaton runs our ARBC holidays so brilliantly. Jack and Lorna, have  some fabulous ARBC holiday opportunities for you coming up. Remember always that the standard is friendly intermediate, so don't think you have to be a county player Let us see into his mind as he declares 3 .


West Deals
E-W Vul
♠ K J 8 4
A 9 7
A 8 2
♣ J 8 3
♠ Q 9 7
Q 8 3
♣ A Q 7 6 2
West  East
♠ 10 5 3 2
10 2
K 10 7 6 4
♣ K 4
  ♠ A 6
K J 6 5 4
9 5 3
♣ 10 9 5

West North East South
1 NT Pass 2 1 2 2
Pass 3 3 Pass 3 4
  1. Weakness take-out.
  2. Not gilt-edged, but partner is marked with some values given East’s weak bid. You don’t win many Pairs events by defending 2 , especially when non-vulnerable.
  3. Good heart raise – the Unassuming Cue Bid. There’s no law against partner having a good hand, with game values present.
  4. Not this time.

Contract: 3 by South
Opening Lead: 10


West leads the queen of diamonds and Jack begins his reconstruction of the defender’s cards by focussing on their shape. East’s weakness take-out has indicated five diamonds, leaving West with two. West cannot have a second doubleton or his hand would be unbalanced. West therefore has (at least) three trumps.

Jack turns his thoughts to highcard points. West has between 12 and 14 for his 1NT opener, leaving East with between five and seven. The opening lead of the queen of diamonds has told declarer of three of East’s points: the king of diamonds. More obliquely, West would have led the ace of clubs if he held ace and king, so East must have (at least) the king of clubs. That’s six of East’s points, leaving no room for either major suit queen.

Jack has deduced that West held three (+) trumps headed by the queen. He ducked the first diamond, won the jack of diamonds continuation with the ace, crossed to his ace of spades, then led with the jack of trumps (key play).

Jack was hoping for the reality – East holding 10x. If West covered the jack with the queen, declarer would win dummy’s ace whereupon a low trump would see East’s ten pop up, promoting dummy’s nine. In fact West played low on the jack of trumps, hoping (against hope) Jack would rise with dummy’s ace.

The jack of trumps won, Jack now crossing to the ace of trumps and leading back to the king (felling West’s queen). Moving to spades (remember he knew West held the queen), declarer led to dummy’s jack. The finesse succeeding, he cashed the king felling a minor-suit loser and was soon chalking up nine tricks (and a top) via five trumps, three spades and the ace of diamonds.

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