‘Ducking is for experts. Don’t try it.’ So says my partner Artur Malinowski every time I duck a trick in defence and let the contract through.
Nice to know that experts also get it wrong, as was spectacularly demonstrated in the semi-final of the Vanderbilt Teams held in Kansas City recently. The two Davids (Bakhshi and Gold), playing for the Schwartz team, bid a tad enthusiastically to slam, missing two aces. The defence took the first one, and at trick four, after pulling trump, Bakhshi played a diamond towards dummy’s King and West (Swedish international Johan Sylvan) went into the tank. ‘What are you thinking about?’ I screamed at my computer. ‘You’ve got the Ace. It’s the setting trick in slam.’ But the unfathomable happened. He ducked and Bakhshi claimed, sending his team to the final. Oops. That could only happen to an expert.
Today’s hand came from an earlier round and saw declarer, a non-expert, go down in a laydown because, as chess players say, he couldn’t see ‘the whole board’.
West led the ♦Q, taken by East with the Ace, who returned the ♦6. Over to you? South, in the match I was watching — and in many others, I’m sure — put his King up. West ruffed and switched to a Spade. That was that — declarer has to lose two more tricks. Had he been able to ‘see the whole hand’, rather than just the Diamond suit in isolation, he would have realised that he could guarantee the contract by playing low at trick two; even if West wins and lets his partner ruff the third Diamond, dummy now has two good Diamonds to take care of the Spades.