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DANGER HAND HIGH

Eric Rodwell

Eric Rodwell and Jeff Meckstroth, otherwise known as Meckwell, are generally considered to be the best pair in the world. . This is partly because of their bidding system, which is awesome in its complexity. This partnership has won the triple crown: the Bermuda Bowl (in 1981 and 1995), World Pairs (1986) and World Teams Olympiad (1988).

Born in 1957, Eric is the younger half of the partnership (but not by much) and is also the chief theoretician. He is also an extremely accomplished pianist and can often be persuaded to entertain the guests at post-final-banquet celebrations. When he is not travelling the international bridge circuit, he lives in Indiana with his wife, Donna.

THE adage 'second hand low' is good general advice, but, as we all know, there are many exceptions. Some of the better known include:

       taking the setting trick

       splitting honours to promote a trick for self or partner

       winning a trick to return partner's lead

       unblocking to avoid being endplayed

Playing second hand high can also destroy declarer's communications if declarer ducks your honour he surrenders an extra trick; if he wins he loses a crucial entry. If dummy has only small cards in declarer's suit, it is often right to play high from holdings like Jx or even Kxx...

 

 

North Dealer

A K Q 10

 

 

 

N-S Game

 5 3

 

 

 

 

 8 6 5

 

 

 

 

 K J 10 4

 

 

 

 

 

             N

 

 

9 8 2

 

 

7 6 3

 K Q 7 6

 

W                        E

 J 2

 A Q 4 3

 

 

 J 10 7

 A 3

 

 

 Q 9 8 5 2

 

 

 

               S

 

 

 

 

J 5 4

 

 

 

 

 A 10 9 8 4

 

 

 

 

 K 9 2

 

 

 

 

 7 6

 

 

W

N

E

S

 

1♣

 

1

 

1♠

 

1NT

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

West leads a passive nine of spades against South's 1NT. Declarer wins the ace in dummy and leads a heart. If East plays 'second hand low', as most would, declarer plays the ten and West has to win. The spade continuation will be won by the king and declarer clears the heart suit. Declarer wins the third spade with the jack, runs hearts and leads a club to the king to make his contract (the king is the right play since declarer wants to keep East off lead and only one minor-suit trick is needed).

If East plays the jack of hearts at trick one, declarer must win the ace. Declarer's natural options include either continuing hearts (hoping the king of diamonds is a re-entry), or finessing clubs, both of which fail.

In this deal, East was the 'danger hand', able to lead through the king of diamonds, so he was especially eager to put up his unsupported jack of hearts.

 

BY now you should be in the swing of things. Try this defensive problem:

 

  North Dealer 4 3

 

Neither Vulnerable

 4 3 2

 

 

 A 10 6 5

 

 

 A K Q 2

 

 

 

N

Q 6 5    

 K Q J 10 5

 

W                          E

 Q 4 3

 

 

 4 3

 

 

                           

W

N

E

S

 

 

 

1NT

 

3NT

 

 

1NT is 15 -17

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You lead the king of hearts, ducked, and follow with the queen and jack of hearts to declarer's ace, partner pitching a spade on the third round. Declarer leads the two of diamonds to trick four. Plan your defence.

Partner has at most two high-card points, so declarer has the ace and king of spades, ace of hearts and king of diamonds for eight tricks. Thus, partner must have Jxxx in clubs if you are to have a chance. Declarer should also have either the jack of spades or jack of diamonds; if the jack of diamonds then you have no chance because he will play dummy's ten (finessing into the safe opponent) and take ten tricks.

Thus you must hope declarer has something like:

A K J X

 A X X 

 K 9 X

 X X X

and try to fool him. Start by playing 'danger hand high', the queen of diamonds, to deny him the avoidance play in diamonds. Now he will probably cash the ace of spades followed by three rounds of clubs, on which you pitch a diamond. Now he has to finesse the diamond to make 3NT, but you have given declarer two losing options:

(1)     finessing in spades;

(2)     trying to drop the jack of diamonds, then trying to drop the queen of spades.

 

If you had played low on the diamond lead, declarer would play dummy's ten, losing to partner's jack. Declarer would then win the spade return and test diamonds, claiming his nine tricks.

In summary, my BOLS bridge tip is

 

Consider playing an  unsupported  honour,

 second in  hand, especially if  you are the 

dangerous opponent.

At the least, it will give declarer a guess  and may defeat the contract legitimately.

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