X-Clubs 45

Freak deals can produce amazingly interesting and also educational results. Witness the following.

Board 2 from Friday 27/01/23
Dealer East NS Vul


The bidding could take different turns. But let’s say East opens 2C as many would do. West will respond 2S, a positive response. North has a good enough club hand to warrant coming in with 3C. 3S from East, being in a game forcing situation. Most Souths might consider the vulnerability too adverse, but some might bid 5C. If you trust partner, you will do so, since you can smell a slam opponents’ way. West has bid her hand and passes and East may consider a penalty double So, let’s look at 5C doubled. What should East lead?

All Easts led the diamond ace and then cashed the ace of spades and continued with the king of hearts. Unimaginative and unthinking defence, and almost all declarers made the most of it, ruffing the heart and then ruffing spades and diamonds in dummy and hearts in hand. Only the declarers who started drawing trumps failed to make 5C doubled, but even -500 was a good score against the very common 510 for EW when 4S made with the inevitable three overtricks. Where did the defence go wrong? It should be automatic to switch to a trump after the ace of diamonds, and most declarers will fail with this defence. But not the declarers who have a Plan B. After the trump switch there is only one way to make 5C, by making use of dummy’s apparently useless heart suit. That requires a lucky layout and trump entries to dummy. When East switches to the TWO of clubs, (the seven makes it easy) declarer must guess to insert the six. Having guessed to put in the six rather than automatically playing low, declarer can now ruff a heart with any high trump, return to dummy by leading a low trump to the jack, and ruff another heart. Now, ruff a diamond and lead the jack of hearts. West should not play the ace, putting declarer to a guess. But West’s positive response and East’s king and queen of hearts should convince declarer to let the jack run for a ruffing finesse. When that succeeds and another heart ruff sets up the rest of the hearts, with one trump still in dummy, BINGO! How valuable was South’s 'useless' heart suit AND the seven of clubs?