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Big Dilemma (Le Bridgeur Magazine n°900– December 2015)

Article written by Jérôme Rombaut and published in the French magazine Le Bridgeur n°900 on 15 December 2015.

Here is a classic defence problem: is it urgent to replay the suit led by partner or does it make more sense to try to give declarer the possibility to make a mistake? It is up to you!

Here is a deal from a match against Sweden which took place in early November 2015 as part of the France Open Team selection process for the European Teams Championships. I have not been able to solve the problem unlike our bridge software GOTO Bridge XVI and our bridge app Funbridge. It is now your turn to give it a go!

You are East and the bidding proceeds as follows:

South North
(*)

(*) Forcing.

Dummy spreads his hand:

S K Q 10 4 3
H A 10
D Q 6 5 3
C Q 2
S A 6 2
H J 9 8 3 2
D K 10
C 6 5 4

 
Your partner leads club 8 to North’s 2, your 4 and declarer’s 10. The latter plays spade 7 to your partner’s 5 and dummy’s king. What next? Are you going to duck this spade king or take it to play clubs?

You must take it if partner holds 6 club cards headed by the ace because defeat of the contract is in your hands then. Otherwise duck, unless this is declarer’s ninth trick. Indeed, in that case, South is very likely to be obliged to take a second trick in the suit. Ducking provides a guessing game for him (the queen or the 10) on the second round, whereas taking the trick immediately obliges him to follow a winning line of play (low card to the 10, hoping that the jack is in West).

Declarer has about 11 points with the heart queen and/or king, the diamond ace and the club king or ace. His number of tricks depends on diamonds, according to whether he holds the jack or not.

Out of the four players faced with this same problem, two beat the contract (by taking with the ace and playing clubs) and two gave it away (by ducking).

The full deal was:

S K Q 10 4 3
H A 10
D Q 6 5 3
C Q 2
S 9 8 5
H Q 7
D 9 4
C A J 9 8 7 3
S A 6 2
H J 9 8 3 2
D K 10
C 6 5 4
S J 7
H K 6 5 4
D A J 8 7 2
C K 10