Source: IBPA Bulletin JAN. 2020

Michael Byrne
Michael Byrne

The Gambling Three Notrump convention (though not cropping up that often), is well-known as a preemptive toy and most defenders are familiar with the standard defensive technique of attempting a quick cash out.

Leading an ace is the most-common way to achieve this, as the sight of dummy normally gives the defence a good idea of what is in declarer’s hand and, if they can’t cash the suit they have led, then they must try an alternative. This deal was played at a Junior Training event for the England U20 team and featured a point of technique rarely seen at the table:

Board 5. Dealer North. N/S Vul

K Q 8 3
10 6
9 7 6
6 4 3 2
J 10 7 2
A J 9 5 3 2
5
K Q
5 4
K
A K Q j 10 8 2
8 7 5
A 9 6
Q 8 7 4
4 3
A J 10 9
West North East South
Winter Bakhshi Clennell Rose
Pass 3NT Pass
Pass Pass

South was Henry Rose, at 16 years old one of the youngest players on the squad, recently returned from Norway where (in partnership with Jasmine, sitting North) he helped England win the Bronze Medal in the Under-16 category and qualify for the World Junior Championships next year.

Henry Rose
Henry Rose

Rose led the A, no doubt hoping to find partner with the king over dummy’s queen, and was disappointed with the sight of dummy. With declarer now marked with at least nine tricks, there was only one suit to attack and that was spades.

The lead of the ace would get at most three tricks since, even when declarer has a small singleton or void, you can’t regain the lead to play another one through the dummy.

A low spade is a better shot since, if partner has the king-queen to length, then declarer will have a guess on the third round; after the six to the jack and queen, low back to the ace and then the nine. Declarer should surely get it right though, since South would not lead the ace of clubs from any holding when he held the ace-king-nine-six of spades as an alternative.

The right card to switch to is thus the nine, which Henry duly found, leaving declarer powerless. He chose to cover with the jack and Jasmine won with the queen and led the three back to the ace. The six through the ten-seven, with North holding the king-eight, left declarer with no recourse. The middle card from honour-ten-low is more commonly seen when declarer has a high doubleton and the defender needs to retain a low one to lead through a holding in dummy. This was a rarer case.

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