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Fancy Falsecard
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In a Round of 16 match in the Open Trials, you have to find the best approach on a minimal hand with wastage.

Both vul, West deals. As North, you hold:

North
K92
K876
K9874
K
W
N
E
S
P
?

Your 1NT opening range vulnerable is 14-16.

If you open 1 (11-15, 2+ diamonds) and partner responds 1, you can then bid 2 which systemically shows this exact shape.

If partner responds 1, you can bid 3 which shows 4-card support, minimum, and shortness in one of the black suits. If you bid 2, that shows 11-13, 4-card support, balanced hand.

Your call?

North
K92
K876
K9874
K
W
N
E
S
P
?

The stiff king doesn't pull full values, but it is still a king. Not only might it be a trick or might help produce a trick, but it is a card which partner doesn't have. That means that the cards partner does have are likely to be working. If the stiff king were a stiff small card then partner might have the king of clubs, in which case that card would be largely wasted but he would not know that and would probably overbid if you opened the bidding. Your expected minimum opening bid is 11 points. It looks right to open 1. If partner responds 1, you can decide whether to treat the hand as balanced or unbalanced.

You open 1. The bidding continues:

W
N
E
S
P
1
P
1
3
?

Double would be a support double showing 3-card heart support, and also showing shortness in the enemy suit.

Your call?

North
K92
K876
K9874
K
W
N
E
S
P
1
P
1
3
?

One nice thing about playing a limited system is that partner isn't going to play you for the world's fair when you open and take another bid. He knows the limit on your hand.

Your hand is minimal to begin with, and the 3 call makes it likely that your king of clubs really is wasted on offense. On defense, your king of clubs is likely to score a trick. This factor argues for passing.

On the other hand, you do have a singleton and decent 4-card support. If you pass partner might be frozen out, and your side could easily have a 9-card heart fit while the opponents have a 9 or 10-card club fit. Partner will be playing you for another working card if you bid 3, but nothing more than that. It is not clear, but on balance it is better to bid than to pass when you have something to say, and your Kxxx of hearts is something to say.

You bid 3, ending the auction.

W
N
E
S
P
1
P
1
3
3
P
P
P

Over you go to try your luck playing what you bid.

West leads the 2.

North
K92
K876
K9874
K
South
864
Q532
Q105
A102
W
N
E
S
P
1
P
1
3
3
P
P
P

What is your plan?

North
K92
K876
K9874
K
South
864
Q532
Q105
A102
W
N
E
S
P
1
P
1
3
3
P
P
P

The lead looks like it could easily be a singleton. You might as well play the 9 from dummy. It can't cost, and that is what you would do if you had a singleton small diamond. You are hoping East inserts the jack from his likely AJxx, in which case you can win your queen and figure out what to do. However, East might be playing the ace. You need to be prepared for that. Are you ready?

North
K92
K876
K9874
K
South
864
Q532
Q105
A102
W
N
E
S
P
1
P
1
3
3
P
P
P

If East does play the ace of diamonds from AJxx, it will be because he thinks his partner has led a singleton, as well as the possibility that you have a singleton queen. This could be grisly if East also has the ace of spades. You can picture diamond ruff, spade through, another diamond ruff, two more rounds of spades, and yet another diamond possibly promoting another trump trick.

Is there anything you can do about this? How about the fancy falsecard of the queen of diamonds under the ace. East is going to have no reason not to believe this is an honest card, and he will certainly shift to a club. You can win this in dummy, shove a small heart through his hoped-for ace, and then discard a spade on the ace of clubs. You will have to lose a second diamond trick, but that is better than West scoring two diamond ruffs. This looks like the best way to minimize the damage.

Can this cost if the diamonds aren't 4-1? No, it can't. If East started with Ax, you can always finesse West for the jack later. East cannot have started with AJ doubleton, since he would always be playing the jack from that holding.

East plays the ace of diamonds. You cleverly play the queen. East returns the 5 to West's jack and dummy's king. What do you do now?

North
92
K876
K874
K
South
84
Q532
105
A102
W
N
E
S
P
1
P
1
3
3
P
P
P

So your ruse worked. However, it is now clear that West has the ace of spades, since there is no way East would have shifted to a spade away from the ace. This almost certainly places the ace of hearts in East's hand.

It looks best to unblock the king of clubs and lead a heart towards your queen. If East takes his ace, he takes air. Otherwise, you will be able to discard a spade on the ace of clubs. That may not help since it doesn't necessarily increase your winner count, but it does cut down on the tricks the opponents can take off the top.

You unblock the king of clubs, and lead a heart towards your hand. East plays the 4, and West plays the 9 under your queen. You cash the ace of clubs discarding a spade, both opponents following small. What next?

North
9
K87
K874
South
84
532
105
10
W
N
E
S
P
1
P
1
3
3
P
P
P

This is the last time you will be in your hand for quite a while. It must be right to lead the 10. If West is out of diamonds, as you think he is, he will either have to ruff your loser or allow you to score the king of diamonds now.

You lead the 10. West discards a club, and you win your king of diamonds. What next?

North
9
K87
874
South
84
532
5
10
W
N
E
S
P
1
P
1
3
3
P
P
P

West certainly has 7 clubs for his vulnerable 3 call. He figures to have at least 3 spades, since with AJ doubleton he would have won the ace and returned a spade. His shape is either 3-2-1-7 or 4-1-1-7. His failure to open 3 as dealer indicates that he might be 4-1-1-7, with the 4-card spade suit being the reason he didn't open 3.

If the hearts are 3-2, you need to lead a trump if you want to prevent the opponents from scoring their trumps separately. Even if West failed to unblock the jack of hearts from J9 doubleton, which he should do, this won't gain anything. West can win, and play ace and a spade. When you ruff in dummy and lead a diamond, East wins, cashes the ace of hearts, and leads the last spade. You will have to give West the last trick in clubs.

Since you have to go down 2 even if the trumps are 3-2, you should guard against a 4-1 trump split. You can do this by knocking out the jack of diamonds. This leaves you in control, and all the defense will be able to take is their spade trick, the jack of diamonds, and 3 trump tricks for down 2. That is the best you can ever do.

You choose to lead a spade. East wins the queen, and plays ace and jack of hearts. You win the king, and play a diamond. East wins the jack, draws your remaining trumps, and leads a spade. West's hand is good, and you are down 3. The full hand is:

West
AJ73
9
2
QJ96543
North
K92
K876
K9874
K
East
Q105
AJ104
AJ63
87
South
864
Q532
Q105
A102
W
N
E
S
P
1
P
1
3
3
P
P
P
D
3 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
2
9
A
Q
2
0
1
5
6
J
K
1
1
1
K
8
2
3
1
2
1
6
4
Q
9
3
3
1
A
Q
2
7
3
4
1
10
4
K
3
1
5
1
9
Q
4
3
2
5
2
A
2
5
7
2
5
3
J
3
6
K
1
6
3
8
J
5
7
2
6
4
10
5
9
8
2
6
5
10
12

It turns out that the fancy falsecard was not a success. With the ace of spades onside and West having only 1 trump, the diamond ruff would not have hurt you and you could have scrambled out for down 1.

How was the defense?

West
AJ73
9
2
QJ96543
North
K92
K876
K9874
K
East
Q105
AJ104
AJ63
87
South
864
Q532
Q105
A102
W
N
E
S
P
1
P
1
3
3
P
P
P
D
3 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
2
9
A
Q
2
0
1
5
6
J
K
1
1
1
K
8
2
3
1
2
1
6
4
Q
9
3
3
1
A
Q
2
7
3
4
1
10
4
K
3
1
5
1
9
Q
4
3
2
5
2
A
2
5
7
2
5
3
J
3
6
K
1
6
3
8
J
5
7
2
6
4
10
5
9
8
2
6
5
10
12

East couldn't be sure about the diamond suit. He knows West has 3+ spades since declarer responded 1 rather than 1, but West could be 3-1-3-6. Still, the spade return looks like it can never be wrong.

West did well to put in the jack of spades. This couldn't cost, and retaining communication might be important. Declarer can't have a stiff spade, since East didn't overcall 1. West followed the good defensive principle of not winning the trick unless you want to win it or you have to win it. Otherwise it is best to duck and see what is going on.

At the end, East did well to work out the position. He was happy to sacrifice a trump trick for the gain of not letting declarer score trumps separately.

What do you think of the E-W bidding?

West
AJ73
9
2
QJ96543
North
K92
K876
K9874
K
East
Q105
AJ104
AJ63
87
South
864
Q532
Q105
A102
W
N
E
S
P
1
P
1
3
3
P
P
P
D
3 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
2
9
A
Q
2
0
1
5
6
J
K
1
1
1
K
8
2
3
1
2
1
6
4
Q
9
3
3
1
A
Q
2
7
3
4
1
10
4
K
3
1
5
1
9
Q
4
3
2
5
2
A
2
5
7
2
5
3
J
3
6
K
1
6
3
8
J
5
7
2
6
4
10
5
9
8
2
6
5
10
12

It looks reasonable. Opening 3 with a 4-card spade suit could easily lead to a missed spade game. Once East doesn't overcall or make a takeout double there doesn't figure to be a game, and the 3 call does as much damage as possible.

At the other table, East chose to make a strange-looking takeout double of the Precision 1 opening. West invited in spades, and they got to 3 which made.

As declarer, it is vital to make your contingency plans in advance. While one could debate whether or not the queen of diamonds falsecard was a good play, it would certainly be a bad play if declarer had to think before making the play. It was necessary for declarer to plan in advance that if East plays the ace, declarer will drop the queen, and this plan must be made before calling a card from dummy. If declarer calls from dummy before having this contingency plan ready, it will be too late for the deception to succeed.

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