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JUST BRIDGE...

 

STANDARD FOURTH-BEST LEAD
YIELDS UNLIKELY DIVIDEND

 

by Beverly Kraft -Eric Kokish

 

 Today's deal produced a most unlikely swing in the bronze medal playoff between Denmark and Israel at the recent World Junior Teams Championship.

 Both North-South pairs reached a sound 4
. Test your play as declarer from the South seat on the lead of the 5.

Neither side vulnerable North deals

  K
K 7
K 8 4 2

K Q J 6 4 3

   
  A Q J 10 7 3
4 3
J 5

A 10 2

West North East South
  1 Pass 1
Pass 2 Pass 4
Pass Pass Pass  


 Kraft: The natural play would be to put up the
K. Only real chance to take a trick with it. Simple plan. I like it.

 Kokish: When a play seems virtually automatic, it's wise to take a few extra seconds to see if there is anything better. This technique has saved me from myself hundreds of times over the years. But is there really a sensible alternative to the
K at trick one on this deal?

 Kraft: The Israeli declarer, Asaf Amit, saw one. Placing the
A with East (who would underlead an ace?), he called for dummy's seven. East would win cheaply and could take the A, but dummy's K would stand protected. The defense could take the A or lose it. If instead declarer plays the K, East would take the A and put West in with the second heart (underleading the queen if necessary) to switch to a low diamond through the king. Declarer would at best have to guess whether West held the ace (play the king) or the queen (play low) to make the contract. In this doomsday scenario I would play the king because with five decent hearts (the lead could have been from four) and the A, East might have overcalled.

 Kokish: Sure, but playing low from dummy is really a "safety play," securing the contract against the most likely layouts. Asaf and his partner Yaniv Zack played consistently well when I saw them play on Vugraph. I'm not surprised that Asaf found this thoughtful play.

 Kraft: Thoughtful. Right. But these were the East/West hands:

  K
K 7
K 8 4 2

K Q J 6 4 3

9 6 2
A 8 6 5 2
9 7 3

9 8

8 5 4
Q J 10 9
A Q 10 6

7 5

  A Q J 10 7 3
4 3
J 5

A 10 2


 Kokish: East, Anders Hagen, won the
9 and returned a heart to Greger Bjarnarson's "surprise" ace. West's diamond switch defeated a contract that "anyone" could have made (and did make at the other table). 10 IMPs to Denmark, who won the bronze by a single IMP.

 Kraft: Just call me "anyone," Kokes.