The 2 for 1
The 2 for 1 is one of the best defensive weapons in tarot but the beginner often has problems to diagnose the moment when it can be played. The beginner is generally classified in one of these 2 categories: the absolute yellowbelly who is always afraid to play trumps, or the maniac of trump play who wants to save his points. We could define the 2 for 1 like a compromise of these 2 lines of play.
Playing in friendly games does not arrange the things because defense is often approximative there, when it's not purely and simply a dialogue of deafs. But if the defense plays with a minimum of communication and common sense, detecting the right time to play the 2 for 1 should be rather easy.
Here are some situations of play which can be used as reference marks and incentive to play the 2 for 1, by supposing of course that the defense already knows wich suit declarer ruffs :
- One of the defenders has promised a strong hand: it doesn't matter that he has the Petit or not, a defender who promised a strong hand should be able to tolerate a trump lead. If ever your trump lead results in helping declarer to capture the Petit of your partner, it's just a bad case over an hundred. On the long run, you will gain.
- The declarer has turned a blank dog: even if there is no strong hand already showed in defense, a blank dog should direct towards the 2 for 1. We dont let a declarer with a trump holding like 21-17-13-6-2-EX to make all his tarots by ruffing !
- You have some high trumps in hand: it is extremely probable that the declarer will not "buy" a trump lead from the defense if his trump holding is weak. To translate, your trump lead is an agressive play telling to declarer "tries to buy this trick, I know that dont have enough to ensure the trick". Even with a Poignée like 21-18-13... declarer will not go up with a high trump.
The following deal is authentic and was played in a duplicate tournament. The egoists in NORTH that continued trump after blocking with the 21 were punished by the Petit at the end. Those which opened the heart's ruff and played later the 2-for-1 obtained an easy fallen contract without the Petit at the end for declarer. Note: some could object that NORTH takes many initiatives with a very weak hand but it must be remembered that the opening lead by EAST does not promise anything (classic opening trump lead made with an even trump meaning "I have a high trump to protect the Petit and I don't know exactly what is the better line of play"). Moreover, declarer has found 2 high trumps in the dog, so NORTH must be careful.
Tarot with 4 players
South dealer and declarer (garde)
DOG: 20-13, 10-7, 1, 10
DISCARD: 10-8-7, J-1, J
The play of the hand:
Trick 1: no attractive opening lead for EAST, therefore the even trump lead is made to leave the initiative to the partners. In theory, this lead promises a high trump. Trick 2: if EAST was embarrassed with the opening lead, NORTH however knows in which suit declarer ruffs. NORTH, on lead with the 21, must resist to the desire of voiding his trumps immediately. EAST did not ask for a trump play but rather announced that he could not find an obvious lead. It's not helping EAST to return a trump to let him with the same problem. NORTH thus opens judiciously the , probable ruff of the declarer.
At trick 3, NORTH can go up with the C for 2 reasons. Firstly, NORTH knows what to play. A 2-for-1 play is very indicated because the defense knows in which suit declarer ruffs and EAST has promised a high trump which should enable him to gain the lead. Secondly, EAST can fear a "smokes out" (bluff) of the declarer in , a suit where apparently he does not have any honor. NORTH can play the cavalier and keep the jack to counter the possible D-10 sequence of the declarer.
At trick 5, EAST knows that he does not have the strong hand for the defense (because of his doubletons and ). He must place himself in position of overruffing the declarer to make his trumps to serve the most effectively. Trick 8, WEST could play the king, but he prefers to play the queen to show that he still controls the . The play of the king would be ambiguous.
At trick 9, NORTH discards a small diamond. This discard should be interpreted as negative by the partners, because it's obvious that the declarer will be pumped in trumps. The declarer did not show a Poignée and has already lost 6 trumps. He pushes a weak long suit still held by the king. In this situation, NORTH should keep his good cards and discard those of the suit where it does not have anything. This discard should help EAST to found the return at trick 11. In any event, the king of is undoubtedly with the declarer, if not he would have a more than doubtful garde.
EAST therefore returns a small , in spite of the risk of a badly garded queen in declarer's hand (if declarer holds Q-C, the lead of a small spade costs nothing because declarer was ensured of a trick with this sequence). The lead of the king is the worst play, bad when the declarer ruffs and also bad when he has Q-C-x since the play of the king immediately set up 2 tricks for declarer. Trick 12: declarer has no other choices except to cash the top diamonds because the defense can possibly enclose him with good discards.
And declarer goes down by 5 for a score of -60 !
In conclusion, it's NORTH which has the key of this defense by not continuing to play trump blindly at trick 2. The declarer cannot counter a line of play including 2-for-1 and overtrumping because of his lack of controls. With 5 blank to play, he can't play trump to defend himself against overtrumping.