The defence on the back foot

Warwick Milne, Mavis Simpson, Janny Sipple, Noela Collins.

Dealer: E Vul: N/S


♠ J8

♥ K9652

♦ J92

♣ 984


♠ AQ ♠ K1073

♥ A73 ♥ Q8

♦ Q76 ♦ 1083

♣ AQ1032 ♣ KJ65


♠ 96542

♥ J104

♦ AK54

♣ 7

It is rare that all defenders make the same lead and that their choice happens to be wrong. On Board 2 (above) from last Friday all North players led the old favourite: fourth highest of the longest and strongest suit. This was the five of hearts. Five of the six declarers had chosen to play in no-trumps, but only three had bid 3NT. It always pays declarer to take a little time to plan the play before calling for a card from dummy. A review of the information available would show declarer that there were nine winning tricks without losing the lead (three spades, one heart and five clubs). A tenth might come in spades, but could not be guaranteed. Was there a chance of an eleventh in hearts? If South held the King, then nothing could save the Queen, but if North had led away from the King, then the Queen would win. If declarer decides to win with the Ace, then the Queen will always lose. There was therefore no risk in playing the Queen on the five of hearts. Janny Sipple and Warwick Milne were the only pair to make the right choice and to win eleven tricks. Now in dummy Warwick could unblock the Ace and Queen of spades (noting the fall of the Jack), cross to dummy with a club, cash two spades and then cash the remaining clubs as well as the Ace of hearts. Eleven tricks were worth 660 and a top score North/South.

To be certain of holding E/W to ten tricks North needed to make a passive lead in a black suit or choose a low diamond in the hope of winning the Jack later. South wins with the King of diamonds and switches to a heart. North’s King will win at some point and North knows to return a diamond, as South’s King was allowed to win. This play will give the defence three tricks and the hope of a reasonable score.

Results: Monday, 16/10/23 (5-table Mitchell): N/S J. Nankervis J. Mobbs (62.1) 1; R. Hart H. Price (57.9) 2. E/W W. Milne J. Sipple (59.6) 1; L. Munson Jenny Smith (59.2) 2. Friday, 20/10/23 (6-table Mitchell): N/S N. Collins M. Simpson (64.1) 1; N. Bonnell B. Bonnell (55.9) 2; T. Hinde J. Mobbs (54.5) 3. E/W W. Milne J. Sipple (59.5) 1; J. Nankervis N. McGinness (58.0) 2; H. Price C. Hall (48.9) 3.