Source: The Sydney Morning Herald – 14 Mar 1971

Here’s a guide to an elegant piece of play, written for “The World of Bridge” by the master himself, Tim Seres. Every now and then declarer gets the chance to put one over the defence which is virtually impossible to detect. Known in the jargon of the game as”deceptive plays”, the declarer is often better placed to do the deceiving, because he is usually in control of the tactics.

Consider this deal:

Dealer South. E/W Vul

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

Against South’s contract of 3NT, West leads the K. East will naturally play his small club to discourage a continuation. If declarer is unimaginative, he will also play his small club, hoping for a Bath Coup (further lead tip to the ace-jack). What is much more likely to happen is that West will respect his partner’s signal and find the damaging spade switch.

Robert ELLIS, Charles HICKMAN & Tim SERES -
Robert ELLIS, Charles HICKMAN & Tim SERES –

Now if the diamond king is offside (as in fact it is) the contract is defeated, as declarer loses the first club, the diamond king and four spades. But look at the problem for the defence if declarer plays the JACK of clubs on the opening club lead. From declarer’s viewpoint, he wants another round of clubs played, which he will win.

Then if the diamond finesse loses, either East will have no club to return, or if he does play a club, the suit will divide 4:3 and the defence cannot make more than four tricks. How on earth is West supposed to smell a rat when he sees the jack of clubs played?’ The only sensible inference is that declarer has the ace-jack of clubs doubleton, making the club continuation both safe and threatening.

The fact that declarer has concealed a club lower than the three-spot played by East also helps to bait the trap, as West must assume that his partner has commenced a mild peter (high-low signal), precisely as he could be expected to do when holding three clubs to the nine in this situation.

It will be obvious that declarer cannot risk taking the first club. This would be poor technique, as if the diamond finesse loses, East will have a club to return unless West began with six clubs.

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