Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Inferences from declarer's play

Matchpoints. South opens 4 and buys it.

A J 8 3
8 3
Q 10 9 8
K Q 10
K 10 4 2
K 3
K 10 7
A 8 5 2

Partner leads a 3rd/low ♠7, possibly consistent with Q-9-7, Q-9-7-x, or 7-x. Declarer wins ♠A and plays ♣K, how do you defend?

A friend sent me this hand, this was his analysis (which I agree with):

At the table, my reaction was to play the ♣A, since declarer could easily have a singleton or even a void. I won and played ♠K, which was not a success as declarer ruffed, overtook the ♣J with the ♣Q, and pitched a diamond loser on the ♣10.

In retrospect, I think there is a clear inference that suggests ducking the club. It's certainly not impossible for declaer to play the club suit on its own this way holding a singleton. However, you are looking at Kx in hearts. It is extremely likely that if declarer had no further entries to dummy he would take a heart finesse while he could.

If declarer were 2=8=2=1, he might have ducked the first trick. With 1=8=3=1, he might fear a diamond ruff if he didn't draw trumps. He still could possibly have x/AJTxxxxx/Axx/x though and play this way.

Winning the club is still ok if you cash your two diamond tricks immediately thereafter, but that seems like a big play.


  1. I defended this against Hamman on the same auction and lead. My instinct was to duck the club at trick 2 and this worked out. He took a trump hook, then led a second club -- I won, led the DK, got a count signal and we got our tricks. I guess I just felt that people always try to lead their stiffs towards dummy in this position, but the reason you give above is even better reason to duck.

  2. I just realized the auction was given wrong -- declarer was 4th seat and responded 4H to partner's 1D. So he couldn't have a side ace with strong hearts, which changes things.