June 24, 2024

When to Duck


When to duck


A defender who can anticipate how the declarer is going to play a hand is a dangerous defender indeed. Accurate anticipation is in part a product of experience and intuition, but there are certain situations that can easily be learnt. For example if declarer has a repeatable finessing position and he takes a winning finesse, he is sure to want to repeat the finesse. Look at the s on this week’s deal.

South  Deals
None Vul
A 8 6
7 5
A Q J 4 2
J 6 5
J 9 4 2
J 10 9 8
9 7
A 9 4
W   E
10 7
6 4 3 2
K 10 8 3
K 10 3
K Q 5 3
6 5
Q 8 7 2
East South West North
  1 ♠ Pass 2 
Pass 2 NT Pass 3 ♠
Pass 3 NT Pass Pass


Declarer won West’s  J lead with  Q and led  5 to dummy’s  J. Say East wins  K – and returns  3. Declarer wins  K, plays to dummy’s  Q, cashes  A, and concedes  2 to East’s  10. East plays  6 to declarer’s  A and declarer crosses to ♠ A, cashes  4, then returns to ♠ KQ. Nine tricks.
But, anticipating that declarer would repeat the  finesse, East (smoothly) ducked  J at trick two. Declarer crossed back to his ♠ Q and led  6 to  Q. This time East won  K – and led  3. Declarer won  K, crossed to ♠ A, and cashed  A hoping for an even split. West discarded a ♣ so dummy’s s were dead (for the lack of an entry to return to them after conceding the fourth round). Declarer was left hoping that the missing ♠s were split 3-3. He cashed ♠ K then ♠ Q but, when East discarded a ♣ on ♠ Q, was unable to make any more tricks apart from  A. He was one down.

ANDREW’S TIP: As a defender, duck when declarer takes a repeatable finesse.