Vil's latest - from Friday Feb 28

Well, after play and while enjoying a glass of wine, we went through 3 of the hands we thought were interesting. However grand master Vil Gravis 's pick was a completely different hand - read on!

X-Files 56 ”Restricted Choice” is a term that most readers may have heard but may not be entirely sure just what it means and how it works. I won’t try and go into the theory, other than to briefly summarise it as follows: if a defender follows to the first lead in a suit with the queen or jack, it is more likely to be singleton than from doubleton QJ. That’s all you really need to know. This deal involved that theory, but there is no need for the theory, because playing North for a singleton jack rather than a doubleton QJ should in fact be a no brainer, because this deal also involves a ‘safety play’, another term that many readers will be familiar with but not entirely sure about. Let me show you the deal and you will see.

Board 23 Dealer S ALL Vul


West opens 1S and North overcalls 2H (possibly 3H). East has the values with four card spade support plus the singleton ace of hearts, to bid directly to game. Against 4S, say North starts with the queen of hearts. Declarer wins in dummy and leads a spade to the ace, North dropping the jack. This is where ‘restricted choice’ comes in. If North had both the jack and the queen, North could follow with either of them. But with a singleton, North has no choice, hence the term.Theory then has it that North is more likely to have a singleton than the QJ doubleton. Declarer therefore ruffs a heart in dummy and leads a second spade, finessing against South. This is, as the reader can see, also an important SAFETY PLAY. Because, even if the trump finesse loses to the queen in North’s hand, North will not be able to attack the diamond suit. As it turns out, the finesse works and declarer can clear trumps and take twelve tricks, discarding two diamonds on the extra clubs. Playing for the drop inevitably results in South winning the queen of trumps sooner or later and leading a diamond through declarer. Fortunately for declarer, declarer has the ten of diamonds which helps avoid three diamond losers. If declarer does play trumps from the top, declarer can still make four, and the correct technique now is to run the clubs and wait for South to ruff with the queen of trumps. When South follows to three clubs, declarer can discard a diamond on the fourth club, ensuring the contract, an overtrick if South has the ace. On top of all that, there will be Souths who are hoarders and won’t part with their good trump until declarer has discarded two diamonds!