The Sunday Night Question – Wilfried Libbrecht

The Sunday night question by Wilfried Libbrecht

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This Sunday evening, when she gave me the details of a training session, Isabelle told me how her teammate Stella, a little newbie, misdefended a hand. The latter is sixteen years young and still lacks experience.

Isabelle: “Stella led the Heart 7 for East’s Jack and declarer’s Queen. It wasn’t too hard to know that South had Ace and Queen of Hearts, right? If East held the Ace, she would have played high in third position. She cannot play the Jack and let declarer win the first trick with the Queen when the defense could take the first five tricks in Hearts.”

Me: “Yes, you’re right. But I think Stella did realize that.”

Isabelle: “So she probably didn’t count declarer’s tricks. Because we know that declarer is going to take two Hearts, five Clubs and at least two Diamonds.”

Me: “How do we know declarer is going to take five Clubs?”

Her: “After the first trick, she played a small Club to the Queen and it held the trick. I admit it’s true that Elise could have ducked the King. But it would be weird not to win the trick immediately to help her partner set up her suit. Especially since West could have Ace-10 fifth in Hearts and the defense would then immediately take four Heart tricks and the King of Clubs… without even counting the Ace of Spades.”

Me: “Yes, you are certainly right again. It seems like the correct play is to win the first round and help West establish her Hearts or simply cash them. But let’s now look at Diamonds, why do you say that South must have at least two tricks there?”

Isabelle: “East played small when declarer called for the Jack of Diamonds. Now, I think East doesn’t have a lot of Diamonds since West has four. If she is short in Diamonds, she must cover the Jack if she has the Queen – honor on honor. I therefore imagine that declarer has the Ace and Queen.”

Me: “Yes, you are right again. With short honors, we almost always have to cover an honor with an honor. OK, all this reasoning fits. So what do you suggest?”

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