Double Dummy 02

This one is a double double dummy problem. You get two for the price of one in the same deal! At the table, it appears that neither double dummy problem was solved easily, though they don’t seem too difficult. This one consists of a declarer problem for both NS and EW. Really, it should be a problem only for NS because when EW bid to 4H, 4S seems to be the obvious answer. Despite the vulnerability, because 4H is likely to make and 4S is sure to be a good sacrifice. But, double dummy, both 4H and 4S should make. Let’s see how, and why.

Board 19 from Monday 4-Dec
Dealer S EW Vul


Firstly, let’s look at 4H played by East. Let’s look at how I suspect the play might go at the table. South leads a spade and declarer ruffs in hand. Now declarer might see that a diamond ruff in dummy is possible, and leads a diamond. North wins and it is obvious to North what declarer is trying to do. North switches to a trump and if declarer leads another diamond, North wins and persists with another trump. Now declarer is unable to ruff a diamond and there is also an inevitable club loser. Did I say ‘inevitable club loser’? That is where many declarers had a blind spot. Yes, there is indeed an inevitable club loser but after a club is lost, unless the suit breaks 4-1, the rest of the clubs provide declarer with four tricks, more than enough, while the defence can take only two diamonds. The answer therefore is not hard to find. When you can anticipate what will happen if you lead another diamond, don’t! Lose the club immediately and the defence are powerless. They can take two diamonds whenever they want to, but no more, as long as there is a trump in dummy. The answer is in being aware of potential problems and planning the play. Not many Easts seem to have done that, most of the ones in 4H failed to make.

Now for 4S by North, which in a way is a more difficult problem. More difficult because there is no ‘clever’ way to make 4S against any distribution, but sometimes being lucky is better than being clever. Let’s see how the play might go at the table and you will see what I mean. If North is playing it, making 4S is easy because East cannot lead a trump and will lead the king of hearts and 4S will roll home when declarer is able to ruff two hearts in dummy. But the ‘double dummy’ problem arises when it is South who is playing in 4S and West is able to start the defence with a trump lead. Deep Finesse says that South also can make 4S. On the surface it looks like trump leads will prevent two heart ruffs, leaving declarer with a heart loser at the end. So, West leads a trump, declarer wins and leads a heart which West wins and leads another trump. It leaves a losing heart in declarer’s hand. Without much hope, declarer now draws Wests remaining trumps and then takes the two top diamonds, noting that the queen drops. Declarer now leads the queen of clubs, expecting the opponents to cash their heart; but sometimes it is better to be lucky than clever. West has both top clubs and can cash them, but then has only clubs left and must give dummy the third club, on which declarer gleefully pitches the losing heart. This hand could well be played that way by a confident declarer if East has shown a long heart suit and West the points. How many of us would simply give up or even concede a heart trick towards the end?

The moral of the story is: never give up, good things might happen either through defensive ineptitude or the way the cards have been dealt by a friendly computer.