Connect with friends and sharpen your grey cells with this column.
The deal is from a pairs tournament in which a simple play eluded all the declarers.
West leads club nine, RHO plays the six and you win with the queen. Plan the play.
Analysis: When dummy hits, you find that the opponents are down one in four spades, if clubs are 3-2. It is most likely however that every south will bid five heart as a save against four spades.
How the play went: After winning the first trick with the club queen, south played the heart queen. West won and played a second club. Declarer won with the jack and played one more heart. West won and put partner in with a spade to obtain a club ruff.
Result: Down two, 300 for EW. The full deal:
Where was the mistake?: Declarer should play a spade at trick two to cut the communication between the defending hands, a ‘Scissor Coup’. Now the defenders cannot engineer a club ruff and you escape for one down.
If you give 100 away, you get 90 per cent score. If you give 300 away, you get 40 per cent score only.
Discussion: On most problems if we ask the proper questions, the answers will guide us to the correct solution. Here, south should have asked "What is the motif behind west’s club lead?" It would have been abundantly clear to him that west if trying for a ruff. It is then a simple matter of executing the Scissor Coup by playing a spade at trick two.
If west simply starts with the spade jack as his opening lead, declarer is held to nine tricks for there are not enough entries to take the club finesse and repeat it. Playing a club, which is the declarer’s second suit, was a terrible mistake indeed.