Delicate deductions

The director is called because a score was written as 650 but the contract and tricks suggest the score should be 450. What is the error? Solution later.

But first, a play problem. You are South, declarer in 4S. West, who had opened 1H, starts by leading the A-K of hearts; you ruff the second round. Next you draw trumps with the Q-J (they split 2-2) then lead a club towards dummy, with the CK appearing from West. What is your plan from here? 

Dealer West, EW vul.

          NORTH 
          S K932
          H 32
          D T73
          C A862
 
          SOUTH 
          S AQJT4
          H 5
          D AJ42
          C Q53

One point to recognise is that the CK is a singleton, because otherwise second player would have played low. The other point is that an extra trick can be set up for declarer if West leads diamonds. 

In this deal from a past Grand National Teams Qualifier, declarers Paul Lavings and Nick Hughes both now ducked, guaranteeing the contract. Because there were no hearts left in the North or South hands, another round of hearts would allow declarer to ruff in hand while sloughing a diamond loser from dummy. 

Instead, each West led a diamond, but this fared no better – declarer needed merely to play low from second hand, and capture the DQ with the DA, leaving the D10 and DJ intact to drive out the DK for an extra trick and the contract. Here is the full hand.

          NORTH 
          S K932
          H 32
          D T73
          C A862
WEST                EAST
S 75                S 86
H AKJT976           H Q84

D K98               D Q65
C K                 C JT974
          SOUTH 
          S AQJT4
          H 5
          D AJ42
          C Q53

Back to the problem posed at the start of the column, where the director is called to correct a score of 650 to 450 points. Will Jenner-O’Shea was the director and had seen it a thousand times before – surely a non-vulnerable game had been wrongly scored as vulnerable with the extra 200 points that entails. 

Further investigation, however, revealed that in fact a defeated contract had been scored as 13 down, whereas it was only nine down! Here is the hand: 

Dealer South, nil vul.

          NORTH 
          S 6
          H 753
          D QT97642
          C K2
WEST              EAST
S KQT53            S A74
H 984              H A62

D J5               D 3
C T43              C AQJ875
          SOUTH 
          S J982
          H KQJT
          D AK8
          C 96

South was declarer in 3NT. This was somewhat ambitious although with seven top tricks in diamonds and three quickly establishable tricks in hearts, the contract could have made against sloppy defence – but not against this East-West pair.

The SK was led and East, using standard signalling methods, encouraged with the S7. West led a low spade to East’s SA, and East pumped another spade through, snookering declarer’s holding. West cashed the remaining spades, while East discarded the H2 and D3 to discourage those suits.

West got the message and led a club. Declarer called hopefully for the CK from dummy, but East had the CA and rattled off six tricks there.

Poor declarer had to discard all but two cards and made the unfortunate decision to hang on to the DA as well as the HK. When East led the HA, that felled declarer’s HK, and West’s H9 won the last trick.

“Wow, that’s 13 down,” announced someone, and 650 was duly entered. Of course, declarer was only in 3NT so in fact was “just” nine down, for 450, which was a consolation of sorts as any West who managed to reach 4S had the chance to make 12 tricks for 480 points.

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