The Briar Patch

Many books on card play have a chapter on Deception. They usually cover card combinations in which one must drop a high card early to give declarer a losing option. These ``Mandatory Falsecards'' are pleasing but rare. More advanced books talk about concealing information and deceptive plays of spot cards and equals. The most fun type of deception, however, is making believe that the cards lie differently than they actually do and planting that information in a defender's mind. I like to call these plays ``Fictions'' because I make up a fictional scenario and lure an opponent to believe my story.

Playing matchpoints in a local game against players who seem to play their cards more or less randomly, I am South.

H: AJ84
D: 984
C: J4
S: A83
H: Q5
D: Q72
C: AQ1095
I get the lead of the H:9. First thing I do is ask if they play ``Jack Denies'' honor leads. They claim that they don't and their convention card is not marked, so this looks like top of a doubleton. At least it's not a diamond. Why did RHO lead a short suit? He must have unattractive leads in the other suits, so his diamonds are probably something like AJx. If I duck this, East will surely win and return a diamond. I'll probably lose the first five tricks then. If the C:K is onside, though, I have ten tricks, so I am going to try to take them. I win the H:A and float the C:J. It holds, but when I repeat the finesse, West wins the King. He continues with a heart. I am prepared for this with a little fiction I've been dreaming up. If I were to play low, East would win the King and be forced to play a diamond because of the J8 heart tenace on the board. To prevent this problem, I ``cover'' the second heart with the 8-spot and drop the Queen, perforce, under the King. East, blissfully unaware that anything unusual had happened, continues knocking out my heart stopper and I gratefully claim ten tricks for a matchpoint top.
Copyright © 1993 Jeff Goldsmith