Misdirected Efforts

Yesterday we paid deference to football season by discussing the "option play" and how to defense it. Today we see another ploy: the "misdirection play."

South's gambling leap to slam would've been punished quickly if West had gotten his fingers on a heart; but West was unwilling to lead from any honor and tried a trump. Dummy won and led the king of clubs, and when East played low, South threw a DIAMOND.

This play successfully misdirected West, who thought South's weak spot was in diamonds. West took the ace of clubs and led a diamond, and South claimed, pitching his hearts on the Q-J-10 of clubs.

HEART SHIFT

If South throws a heart on the first club, West will surely return a heart. But if East-West are an expert partnership, South always fails since East will play the nine on the first club.

West will interpret this play as a suit-preference signal (since it can be nothing else): a high club to show strength in the higher-ranking of the remaining side suits.

DAILY QUESTION

You hold: S K 9 8 3 H 9 3 D 7 6 2 C K Q J 10. Your partner opens one club, you respond one spade and he bids 1NT. The opponents pass. What do you say?

ANSWER: Partner promises a minimum balanced hand; hence you must choose between a pass and a return to two clubs. To pass is reasonable since partner's distribution may be 3-4-3-3; but two clubs will usually be a safer contract, and you'll collect 100 honors (at rubber bridge).

North dealer

N-S vulnerable

NORTH

S K 9 8 3

H 9 3

D 7 6 2

C K Q J 10

WEST

S 5

H K 8 7 4

D Q 10 4 3

C A 7 5 3

EAST

S 4

H A 6 5 2

D J 9 8

C 9 8 6 4 2

SOUTH

S A Q J 10 7 6 2

H Q J 10

D A K 5

C None

North

Pass

2 S

East

Pass

Pass

South

1 S

6 S(!)

West

Pass

All Pass

Opening lead -- S 5

Copyright 1999, Los Angeles Times Syndicate