Source: The Milwaukee Sentinel – Jul 11, 1973

Jan Wohlin
Jan Wohlin

Jan Wohlin of Stockholm has been one of Europe’s great players for many years. He has represented Sweden at the world championship level and has won numerous European and national championships. He has one of the most fertile minds for remembering past bridge hands and he is one of the foremost bridge analysts.

Today’s hand is one of Wohlin’s hands that features an unusual type of ducking play.

10 6 5 2
K 7
A 5
Q J 10 8 3
Q 9 8 7 3
10 4
J 9 4
A 7 5
K 4
J 9 8 5 3
10 8 7 2
K 2
A J
A Q 6 2
K Q 6 3
9 6 4

Contract: 3NT

Opening Lead: 7

North used the Stayman convention to check on a possible spade fit. When it did not materialize he bid the NT game. West led fourth from his longest and strongest suit, and South captured East’s king with the ace. This assured South of at least two spade stoppers, since the jack and the 10 would assure another spade trick. A perfectly natural play — so it seems.

South needed a club trick for his contract; but East ruined declarer’s chances by winning the first club and leading a spade. West won the queen and knocked out the spade 10 to establish two long spades. West then waited patiently with his club ace to defeat the contract.

Wohlin points out that the safest plan is to duck East’s spade king. The reasoning is that if South can establish the clubs, then he will not need a second spade trick and his efforts should be directed at isolating West’s long spades. This plan loses only if both club honors are in the West hand.

After South ducks the spade king and wins the continuation, he starts the club suit. East wins the king but has no spade to lead. If he did have one, the spade 10 would still prevent the running of the suit. After winning the club. East is forced to shift and declarer can knock out West’s club ace and score his nine tricks. An unusual ducking play which would escape many declarers. Especially those who are prone to play quickly to the first trick.

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