The Lord Giveth, and The Lord Taketh Away
Today's hand, from the Wednesday Morning game, illustrates a type of see-saw battle between declarer and the defenders that is so typical of the play at Dante's Infernal. It's almost as if neither side wanted the tricks that were handed to them.
Contract: 3 Doubled
Opening Lead: K
With no one vulnerable, east-west opted to forgo their chances in the (unbeatable) heart game in the hopes of a three-trick set. That could be achieved by preventing declarer from winning two club tricks and ruffing a club high. To accomplish that, the defense needed to play three rounds of spades early, enabling east to discard a club.
See-Saw #1: East did not overtake the opening lead.
Having no quick entry, west could not regain the lead to cash the third spade. A heart shift would have been best, but she chose to continue spades. East took the ace and played two top hearts, declarer ruffing the second round. Needing only to play three rounds of clubs now, planning to ruff the fourth round high, south had other ideas.
See-Saw #2: Declarer cashed the diamond ace.
Now it was too late to take seven tricks. However, as declarer then led his low diamond to the ten, it was left-hand opponent who had other ideas, however:
See-Saw #3: West discarded her remaining heart.
East took dummy's diamond ten with the king, leaving this position:
At this juncture, east could have tried the effect of leading his high heart, offering declarer the opportunity for a brilliant counter — discarding the nine of clubs! But east returned the club seven.
Now declarer needed only to grab that lead, draw the trumps, and play the spade ten. That would permit west to cash two spade winners, but then — having thrown away her exit card in hearts, she would be forced to give away her club trick. But south had other ideas:
See-Saw #4: Declarer led the spade ten immediately.
Winning the spade queen, west tried another spade. Dummy discarded a club, and east inexplicably ruffed low. This play was not fatal, but it set up an opportunity for one that was. Declarer overruffed, and led the club king in this position, giving east his chance to tilt the plank for the last time:
See-Saw #5: East ruffed the club king.
On lead, belatedly realizing that he was endplayed, east conceded the last
three tricks. That was down two
for +300, while six pairs bid and made a
game of some kind. Had east simply declined to ruff until the next club
was played, declarer could subsequently win only one more trick.