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Work out dummys shape from the bidding

A defender must not merely remember partner’s bids and the final contract. They must recall the exact route the opponents took to get there. Take this auction (your side silent): 1 -1 -1 -3 -3 -4 . Dummy’s has advertised their shape: 4 -3 -5(6)-1(0).

So, as West, on lead with:


do not lead the unbid suit, clubs, and void the dummy. A trump lead is possible, to cut down dummy’s trumping power. The trouble is that the opponents have revealed a side-fit in diamonds, and will probably be able to run that suit after trumps have been drawn. Instead, attack the suit in which declarer will make discards on dummy’s diamonds: I’m talking about spades.

North Deals
None Vul
K Q 7 4
K 10 4
A Q 9 7 4
J 10 8
8 7 3
6 5 3
K J 8 4
W   E
A 6 5
9 2
K 2
A 9 7 6 3 2
9 3 2
A Q J 6 5
J 10 8
Q 10
West North East South
  1  Pass1 1 
Pass 1 2 Pass 3 3
Pass 3 4 Pass 4 
All pass      
  1. More discipline than I’d have had. I know
    East is vulnerable and he has to bid his suit
    at the Two-level, but I’d have overcalled
    Two Clubs.
  2. Showing his five-four shape.
  3. Invite, with delayed diamond support.
  4. Showing his delayed heart support, and
    thus a 4  3  5  1  (or perhaps a
    4 3 60) shape.


What happened
Looking no further than the unbid suit, West led  4. No good. East won  A and switched to  2 (what else?). Declarer won  J and ran  J to East’s  K. Winning  9 return with  K, declarer crossed to  Q (drawing West’s last trump), played out dummy’s winning diamonds discarding  Q and  2 from hand, and flushed out  A. 10 tricks and game made.

What should have happened
It is a different story on  J lead. Declarer covers with  Q, and East wins  A.  6 comes next, to  3,  8 and  K. Declarer crosses to  J and runs  J, but East can win  K, cash  A, and lead over to West’s S10. Down one.

If you remember one thing...
Before leading, listen carefully to the bidding, and try to work out dummy’s shape.

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