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Hide and seek

Clement Wong ( Hong Kong )

 

 

CLEMENT WONG, professional engineer, university lecturer, political advisor and writer, is a well-known bridge personality in Asian bridge circles. Born in 1951, he learnt bridge at the age of ten. In his first bridge tournament, at the age of eighteen, he won a Hong Kong open pairs championship. Since then he has won many national bridge championships and represented Hong Kong in several international competitions. In 1991 he captained the Hong Kong open team which won the qualification for the Bermuda Bowl.

He started writing about bridge in the early 1980s and in 1989 started a bridge column in the Hong Kong Economic Journal. A special feature of his columns is that before each bridge hand, he writes a short essay which touches on various topics a/general interest, for example, current affairs, art, engineering or social issues. He then links that to the bridge article. These essays have been formed into a book which has won high acclaim among intellectual and bridge circles.

IN chess, queening your pawns is the key to winning a game. Has anyone thought about Queening your defence in bridge?

With Qxx in a key suit in a two-way finesse position, a good defender will try to induce the declarer to guess wrong. On the other hand, if to queen is doomed, playing it prematurely may work well. This is what this article is about.

Say you are defending a contract of Four Spades and hold Qxx in the trump suit. Dummy has Kxx. Declarer is marked with at least five cards in the suit. If you are in front of declarer, a simple finesse to his ace-jack will see him home. If you are over declarer your queen will be much safer, but now you must be careful not to persuade him to take a backward finesse in your direction.

In the first case your partner can help save your queen if he holds 10x or 9x. He drops the ten or nine when declarer plays the king, hoping to persuade him to play for the drop.

In the second case, a different tactic is required. Look at this example:

  South Dealer K 8 5    

 

N S Game

 K 10 3

 

 

 

 

 A Q J 3 2

 

 

 

 

 J 7

 

 

 

 

 

N

 

 

A 10 6      

 Q 9 6 2

 

W                          E

 

 8 6

 

 

 

 K 9 5 2

 

 

 

 

W

N

E

S

 

 

 

1

NO

2

NO

2

NO

4

NO

NO

NO

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You were brave enough to lead a small club from your king. Your partner won the ace and returned the four of clubs to your king. You were almost certain to score a trump trick. Would you cash your spade ace now?

That was what the Bermuda Bowl defender did. Declarer was the American star, Bobby Wolff. Sensing that West must hold the trump queen to defend like that, he led the jack (covered) towards the king and later finessed against West's nine to land the contract.

 

You must now get the idea. When your queen is doomed try abnormal play to mislead declarer into the wrong play. When your queen is in a favourable position do not play as though you have a sure trick with it. The defender in the above example should wait for his trump trick before cashing the ace of spades. Then the declarer will play normally and go down.

 

Here is another example:

 

West Dealer

 J 10 6 5

 

 

 

Game All

 K 10 2

 

 

 

 

 3 2

 

 

 

 

  J 9 5 3

 

 

 

 

 

              N

 

 

----

 

 

 9 8 4

----

 

W                      E

 A Q J 6

----

 

 

 Q 10 6

 -----

 

 

 Q 8 2

 

 

 

                S

 

 

 

 

 ----

 

 

 

 

 ----

 

 

 

 

 ----

 

 

 

 

 ----

 

 

 

South showed good diamonds and played in 3NT. West led a small spade and dummy's jack won. Declarer next played a diamond from dummy. What do you play? Here is the full deal:

 

 

West Dealer

 J 10 6 5

 

 

 

Game All

 K 10 2

 

 

 

 

 3 2

 

 

 

 

  J 9 5 3

 

 

 

 

 

              N

 

 

 K Q 7 2

 

 

 9 8 4

 9 8 5 4

 

W                     E

 A Q J 6

 9 8 5

 

 

 Q 120 6

 10 7

 

 

 Q 8 2

 

 

 

               S

 

 

 

 

 A 2

 

 

 

 

 7 3

 

 

 

 

 A K J 7 4

 

 

 

 

 A K 6 4

 

 

                           

In the Sweden-Hong Kong match in the 1991 Bermuda Bowl, Karic Chu of Hong Kong, sensing there was no way to beat 3NT because of the favourable diamond position, played the queen! This persuaded declarer to switch to clubs. When Karic got in with the queen of clubs, he returned a spade. Now declarer thought his only chance was to lead up to the king of hearts for his ninth trick. He ended up two down.

 

Not convinced? The next hand was first reported by Jeremy Flint. South is in Six Spades and West leads the jack of clubs:

 

West Dealer

K 10 3

 

 

 

Game All

9 6

 

 

 

 

A K Q J 3

 

 

 

 

A Q 4

 

 

 

 

 

              N

 

 

 J 2

 

 

 Q 9 7

 J 8 4                      

 

W                     E

 K 10 7 3 2

 7 5

 

 

 9 8 6 2

J 10 9 7 6 5

 

 

 2

 

 

 

               S

 

 

 

 

A 8 6 5 4

 

 

 

 

A Q 5

 

 

 

 

10 4

 

 

 

 

 K 8 3

 

 

                           

Do you see any way for declarer to go down? Georges Theron of France was East. When declarer led a spade to the king, he dropped the queen! Fearing that West held J9xx, declarer came back to his own hand to lead a trump towards dummy. West scored the jack and gave Georges a ruff to beat the impregnable contract!

 

ANOTHER well-known position is in an endgame where declarer has K10x opposite A9x and has thrown you in to broach this suit. If you hold Qxx it is standard practice to lead the queen, trying to hide your partner's jack.

 

My BOLS bridge tip is therefore:

When defending with QXX in trumps or in a key suit play hide (in favourable positions)

 and seek (in unfavourable positions) with declarer.

The tip is equally applicable to holding Qxxx or Qx and I will leave it to the reader to have some more fun with it.

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