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A Switch in Time Chapter 5

A Switch in Time Chapter 5

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Published by: api-27228698 on Oct 19, 2008
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A Switch in Time
ntil now, we have discussed the Obvious Shift as if it were

reasonably obvious to both partners. We presented a few guidelines for identifying the Obvious Shift in the short quiz at the end of Chapter II. Most important of these was that against a suit contract dummy\u2019s weak three-card suit is the top candidate; otherwise we look for dummy\u2019s shorter side suit, and if there is doubt, we go with the lower.

On the one hand, these rules are easy, and most of the time you will be on the same wavelength with partner. On the other hand, they do not take into account bidding, which could easily change your thinking. At the table, confusing situations arise. As we saw on the last deal, the Obvious Shift is not always so obvious. And no partnerships enjoy mix-ups.

It is a good idea, therefore, to have a set of firm rules to follow. These rules are valuable, however, only in a partnership and should be treated in the same way you treat bidding systems: You've got to agree on them with partner beforehand.

In our study of defense, both in reading and actual play, we have come upon enough blunders to help us formulate the follow- ing set of rules. We have no doubt, however \u2014 this being the first attempt at such guidelines \u2014 that theorists will come up with even better ideas after these methods become popular. For now, here are our rules, which are designed for accuracy and simplicity.

5. When the Obvious Shift
Isn't So Obvious
A Switch in Time
First we will present five preliminary rules, which say what the
Obvious Shiftc a n n o t be at trick one.
(A) The Obvious Shift cannot be the suit led.
This is because it would not be a shift.
(B) The Obvious Shift is never trumps.

Though trumps may very well be the best shift, it will have to be determined by the opening leader, based on the information he has.

(C) The Obvious Shift is never a suit headed by the A-K-Q or
four of the top five honors.
(D) The Obvious Shift in a suit contract is never dummy's
singleton or void.
But in a notrump contract it often is.
(E) The Obvious Shift is never a natural suit bid by declarer.

This stands to reason, and by eliminating this suit, you often have the Obvious Shift pinned down. Thus, as we always knew, the more declarer describes his hand, the easier the defense.*

Using these negative rules alone, you can often pinpoint the Obvious Shift. Let\u2019s look at one such example, which dates back to 1959! Were experts using obvious-shift carding even then? Apparently yes. The following problem-hand by Alvin Roth and Tobias Stone first appeared in The Bridge World and was later reprinted in the book, \u201cFor Experts Only.\u201d


\u201cTwo of the best American players were involved: Ira Rubin, sitting West, and Sam Stayman, North. East was Tobias Stone; South, declarer, was Arthur Seidman, a tough rubber bridge competitor.

*Of course, we should never say never. There are times every other
suit has been eliminated and only a suit bid by declarer makes sense.
But it is extremely rare.
A Switch in Time

\u00df Q 7 6 4 2
\u02d9 J 8 7 4
\u2202 J \u00a15
\u00e7 2

\u00df \u2014
\u00df J 9 8 5 3
\u02d9 6 5 3 2
\u02d9 9
\u2202 A KQ4
\u2202 76 3
\u00e7 Q J \u00a1 5 3
\u00e7 K 9 8 7

\u00df A K \u00a1
\u02d9 A K Q \u00a1
\u2202 9 82
\u00e7 A 6 4

1 \u2202
1 \u00df
2 \u00e7
2 \u02d9
3 \u00e7
3 \u02d9
4 \u02d9
(all pass)

\u201cRubin, West, opened the \u2202Q. Stone played the \u22026, and declarer played the deuce. Rubin led the \u2202K; Stone played the \u22027 and declarer, the 9. Rubin now led the \u2202A; Stone played the \u22023 and declarer, the 8.

\u201cIn Rubin\u2019s position, what do you play now \u2014 and why?
\u201cAfter Rubin cashed the three diamonds, he switched to the
\u00e7Q, and declarer had no trouble making the contract.

\u201cThe correct play by West at trick four is a trump, destroying declarer\u2019s \u2018transportation.\u2019 Indeed, this trump shift would be equally effective if South had all five missing trumps and only the A-K blank of spades. In either case, needing two club ruffs in dummy, South cannot get back and forth without running into a spade ruff by West. Declarer\u2019s dilemma after the trump shift is obvious and we\u2019re sure that all readers will easily analyze the situation for themselves.\u201d


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