November 16, 2007 in Features

“Poetry … lays bare, under a light which shakes off torpor, the surprising things which surround us and which our senses record mechanically.” - Jean Cocteau

Bobby Wolff United Feature Syndicate

Today’s deal highlights an example of a surround play, which is an attempt to capture a vulnerable spot-card in an opponent’s hand, rather than letting him put that card to full use.

Defending three spades, West led the heart jack to South’s queen. The spade jack then lost to the queen, and East took stock.

South’s vulnerable overcall implied he must hold another ace along with the ace and queen of hearts, with which the play had marked him. If not, West would have bid something stronger than two hearts. If West held the diamond ace, then declarer would have the top club honors, so there would be no defense to the part-score.

But if West had the club ace, with South holding the club queen, then a diamond trick had to be set up before the clubs produced discards for declarer. So East switched to the diamond deuce.

A good idea – but not good enough. The diamond two ran to West’s jack and dummy’s king, and subsequently South finessed East for the diamond queen to make his nine tricks.

See the difference if East finds the switch to the diamond nine. East’s Q-7 “surrounds” dummy’s eight, and so long as West continues the attack on diamonds, the defenders will win a trick in that suit to defeat the contract.

Meanwhile, note that declarer could and should prevail by playing on clubs himself at trick two, setting up a discard for his diamond loser.

Bid with the aces

South holds:

♠ 4 2
♥ J 10 4
♦ J 4 3
♣ A 9 8 6 5
1 ♦1 ♥
2 ♣Pass3 ♣Pass

Answer: Since you could not bid at your first turn and could only bid two clubs at your next turn, partner must have a moose. I would simply drive to five clubs, expecting partner to have four trumps and at least 18 points. A three-heart cuebid makes sense as well, though I think I’d settle for simplicity.

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