Show Them

Good declarers hide as much information from their opponents as they can. Forcing a defender to make a decision without the necessary data to get it right is an important technique. Sometimes, the opposite approach is needed by a tricky declarer.

Playing a regional open pairs, we are playing an unseeded pair, but they seem alert. I deal myself

 S:AK2 H:AQ2 D:KQ32 C:532
The first thing I notice about the hand is the quality of the spot cards. It's a little heavy in high cards, but those spots are so bad, I downgrade the hand and open a 15-17 notrump. Partner checks for majors then jumps to 3NT, after which I get the D:10 lead and see this dummy:
S: Q975
H: K
D: AJ654
C: J107
S: AK2
H: AQ2
D: KQ32
C: 532
Having escaped a club lead, I have eleven tricks on top. It might be fun to attack clubs to rectify the count for a spade-club squeeze, but not only is that unlikely, I'm already ahead of the field, so I don't want to risk an already good score. I'm nearly certain that if I run the C:J, they'll switch to hearts, but the risk-reward ratio isn't very good.

Attacking clubs would be sneaky, but I have a better plan which is even sneakier. I win the first trick with the queen, letting LHO know the diamond suit as early as I can. I cash the H:K, cross back to the D:K, and cash the other two hearts, pitching clubs. I've now shown the opponents 11 HCP in my hand. On the run of the diamonds, LHO easily pitches a spade from J10xx, "knowing" that I can't have the S:AK, for that would give me 18 HCP. I end up with 12 tricks for a fine matchpoint score.

I have a lot of sympathy for LHO. Sometimes counting out the hand is unduly punished.

Copyright © 2004 Jeff Goldsmith