Why is defence so difficult? Why do I have to suffer partner’s incredulous face when I play the wrong card in a two-card ending? Again. My New Year resolution is to slow right down and try to work out Declarer’s shape before playing a card. Some hope. I was watching a YouTube video from a World Championship match a few years ago and two hands in a row turned up where the defence had ‘an easy four tricks’ against game but failed to take them. This was the second one:
Marty Fleisher, one of the most gifted American sponsors, was sitting South, playing for the USA. His 4♥ bid on four small at adverse vulnerability is not for snowflakes. Admittedly, he didn’t get much in the majors in dummy, but the Club holding was a massive bonus; switch North’s minors around, and he would be scrambling to get out for -800 when the opposition may have nothing on. West led a very reasonable trump to the Queen and King. East figured that partner probably knew what he was doing, so returned a trump to the Ace. West also figured partner knew what he was doing, and played a third trump, whereupon Marty claimed +790. This may look ridiculous, but it’s always hard to imagine declarer’s big shape when we can’t see it. However, West really ought to have stopped and thought for a second; South had bid 4♥ at adverse vulnerability on four small — he simply must have shape and a long minor to justify it, and cashing the Ace of Diamonds before the last trump suddenly makes a lot more sense.
Happy New Year, all, and good luck with your resolutions.
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