A Bridge Phantasmagoria
Allowing a dangerous opponent to obtain the lead is a must to avoid. Ducking and finessing to a non-danger man are ways to achieve that object.
In a contract of Five Diamonds, South ruffed the spade lead and came to hand with the queen of clubs to take a second spade ruff. A trump to the ace was followed by the king. West showed out and suddenly the contract was in jeopardy. Declarer continued with the queen of diamonds and a fourth to East. A heart from East set the contract.
Avoidance play ensures the contract. At trick two lead a trump and finesse the ten. Even if it loses to the jack, you are safe unless East is void in clubs. As it happens, the finesse wins and South can ruff a second spade in dummy.
Back to hand on a club and the diamonds and clubs are run for all thirteen tricks and virtue has its reward.
Attacking the right suit first was the key on this next hand.
West led the four of spades and the queen won. An immediate attack in diamonds is fatal as East wins and clears the spades. Requiring two heart tricks a later finesse loses to West who runs his spades for one down.
The second heart trick must be established first. The finesse loses to West who cannot continue spades, which gives declarer ten tricks. On any other return, South can drive out the ace of diamonds while he still holds a spade stopper.
The third example illustrates how to avoid the avoidance.
South arrived in 3NT and West led the five of spades. Dummy’s jack was covered by the king and South held off to the third round. He only required four club tricks and planned to duck a club to East by playing a small club to the nine.
When he did lead the club, West upped with the jack and he was scuppered. To duck allows West entry to his spades and not to duck restricts him to three club tricks. He played off the clubs but as they failed to break even, defeat was his lot.
“That jack of clubs was some play” said South to West.
“What do you mean? I was only showing my partner a doubleton” explained West.Such unintended brilliance was hard for South to bear.