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PLAY and DEFENCE for Improving Players

THE BIDDING TO THE RESCUE

How do you feel about the following two hands? A combined 22 hcp and you are playing in 1NT with every chance of at least one hold in every suit. It sounds quite straightforward to make your contract. They even led a suit in which you have three guaranteed tricks….and yet our declarer found a way to go down. Would you like to have a look?

North Deals
None Vul
   
A 7 4
A J 6
K J 4
8 5 3 2
 
N
W   E
S
 
J 8 3
K 8 4
7 5 2
K Q 10 7
West North East South
  1  Pass Pass
1 NT All pass    

 

In the pass-out seat, our 1NT can be, by agreement, a little weaker than the 15-18 it would be in other situations. 12-15 is a good range with a hold in opener’s suit. Double by West might well find a poor fit at the two level. 1NT looks a good option for West here.

Our declarer could count four certain tricks in the majors after the heart lead and needed three from the minor suits to get a plus score. There was also the potential of a second spade trick. Have you decided how to play the cards?

Let’s see how West went down…in style! The opening lead was won in the West hand with a club played to the king at trick two. When that won, West played another heart to hand and played a second club to the queen, which also won the trick…but South discarded a spade. Take a look at the four hands:

North Deals
None Vul
K
10 9 7 3 2
A Q 6
A J 9 4
A 7 4
A J 6
K J 4
8 5 3 2
 
N
W   E
S
 
J 8 3
K 8 4
7 5 2
K Q 10 7
 
Q 10 9 6 5 2
Q 5
10 9 8 3
6

 

Dark Clouds are Gathering

West had scored the first four tricks but disaster was soon to strike. A diamond was played to the jack and queen with North removing the Heart-smallK from dummy. 5-1tricks in favour of declarer was soon to become 5-8 (down 2!). Another diamond went to the king and ace which was followed by two high clubs from North (South discarded two more spades). Next North cashed two winning hearts on which West and South discarded two spades each. North exited their Diamond-small6 at trick 12 and South’s Diamond-small109 took the last two tricks including felling rather shamefully the Spade-smallA! Down 2.

West should really have done better, much better. The first four tricks were fine, even though a club to the 10 would have been more successful. West could have reasoned that they did not want to lose to the Club-smallJ in South’s hand for fear of a switch to a diamond.

Did you remember?

However, our West seemed to forget that South had less than 6 hcp, maybe much less. The Diamond-smallA was certain to be in North’s hand (remember trick 1: South could not have Heart-smallQ and the Diamond-smallA and passed 1Heart-small) while the Diamond-smallQ may well be with North too. Keeping South off lead was a good idea.

Thus, when West found they had two club losers, they should not touch diamonds. In fact, West could cash the Heart-smallK and then exit to North in clubs. Let North have their two heart and two club winners. Watch South’s discards with West throwing a diamond and a spade from their own hand and a couple of diamonds from dummy.

As the cards lay, North will exit the Spade-smallK or else declarer will have an immediate 7 tricks on any diamond play. It is likely South will have discarded four spades (at least 3) on hearts and clubs. West’s tricky decision will be whether to win the Spade-smallK and exit a spade ( correct if North has Spade-smallKQ) or duck if the king is singleton. Indeed, West could have saved themselves the guess by cashing the Spade-smallA after the Heart-smallK and then exiting a club to North instead of a heart.It would have been a very alert North who would save themselves the end-play by throwing the king from Kx at that point.

In attacking diamonds, West seemed to forget that North had opened the bidding and that the location of the Diamond-smallA was marked. Only if North held two spades and Diamond-smallAx was West in trouble on the suggested line above. The bidding, or South’s lack of bidding, should have come to West’s rescue even after the understandable but wrong guess in the club suit.

Richard Solomon

 

 

 

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