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Far-sighted Exit

Hand of the Week

Dlr:
West
Vul:
Both
North
♠ 6 2
Q J 5
10 9 8 7 5
♣ Q 10 J
South
♠ A K Q 10 9 7 5 4
7
K 4
♣ K 6

Canadian Dianna Gordon found an elegant defense on this deal from the 1996 Women’s Olympiad in Greece:

Gordon, who won the World Mixed Pairs with George Mittelman in 1990, was West. Her 1 opening was followed by two passes. The South player jumped directly to 4♠ ending the auction.

Gordon led the K. Her partner played the 3 to indicate an odd number. East’s signal should show count in this type of situation, since her attitude about hearts is known. Hence the 3 is meant to show an odd number (East could begin an echo – high-low – to show an even number), not to tell West that she’s disinterested in hearts.

Declarer completed the first trick with the 7. Gordon was fairly sure that her partner had three low hearts and that declarer had a singleton. The jump to 4♠ made it more likely that declarer started with one heart, while East started with three.

How would you defend if you were West? If you try to cash the A, declarer will ruff, draw trumps and play the ♣K. Even if you duck (you should), declarer will play a second club, endplaying you: If you play a heart or a club, declarer will pitch both diamonds in his hand on the club and heart queens to make an overtrick. If you instead exit with a diamond, declarer will score the K to make the contract on the nose.

Gordon found the right defense at trick two even without the benefit of seeing all four hands. She exited with a low club which ran to declarer’s king. After drawing trumps, declarer played a second club which Gordon won with the ace. She then played the A. Declarer ruffed, of course, but was then forced to play diamonds from her hand for down one.

The full deal:

Dlr:
Vul:
North
♠ 6 2
Q J 5
10 9 8 7 5
♣ Q 10 J
West
♠ –
A K 10 8 4 2
A J 2
♣ A 7 5 3
East
♠ J 8 3
9 6 3
Q 6 3
♣ 9 8 4 2
South
♠ A K Q 10 9 7 5 4
7
K 4
♣ K 6
West North East South
1 Pass Pass 4♠
All Pass