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PLAY and DEFENCE for Improving Players

AN ELEPHANT NEVER FORGETS

Now, I am not calling you an elephant, at least not in public! I do, though, want you to justify my faith in you by getting two problems right. One is a little easier than the other. Both are on the same theme. In each case, I am going to give you your hand as declarer and your dummy….and, of course, the bidding. In the first case you are playing Pairs and are sitting West:

 

South Deals
Both Vul
   
A 3 2
K 8
Q 9
A 10 8 6 4 2
 
N
W   E
S
 
7 6 5
10 9 5
K J 5
K J 7 5
West North East South
      1 NT
3  3  4  All pass

 

The bidding seemed a little unusual in that it stopped where it did. Whoever plays in 4 of a minor? Why, you do! 1NT was 12-14 with 3Club-small being the only way you had to show your long suit. North tried hearts but no-one disturbed 4Club-small. North led the Spade-small8…over then to you? If you duck, they will continue spades.

And when you have worked out what to do, make your plan in 4Heart-smallwhere, once again, you are West. This time, you are playing Teams. Whatever form of scoring, it would be a good idea to try and make your contract…really, even with these cards:

North Deals
None Vul
   
8 2
Q 7 5 4
K 9 7
Q 10 7 4
 
N
W   E
S
 
A 5 3
K 6 3 2
A J 2
A 9 2
West North East South
  1 NT Dbl 2 
Pass Pass Dbl Pass
2  Pass 3  Pass
4  All pass    

Well, it’s not a perfect world. North led Spade-smallQ after which you saw dummy and wished:

  1. you had passed 2Diamond-smallx, even if partner’s second double was for take-out.
  2. Partner has passed 2Heart-small.
  3. You had passed 3Heart-small. Well, you could have had 0 hcp. So, you were kind of good for the bidding up to now. 1NT was again 12-14 with South doing a runner, showing diamonds and a higher suit. Come on now. Your plan for 10 tricks? If you duck the first trick, they will continue spades. I promise you partner will excuse you if you fail to make overs! (Note: Spade-smallQ denies holding the Spade-smallK).

So, how did you go with the first deal? Did you make 4Club-small? I doubt it, especially when you see the lay-out below. However, when you won the lead (you might have decided to duck a round of spades but they continued the suit which you won,) how did you tackle the trump suit?

South Deals
Both Vul
9 8 4
A Q 7 4 3
10 8 7 3 2
A 3 2
K 8
Q 9
A 10 8 6 4 2
 
N
W   E
S
 
7 6 5
10 9 5
K J 5
K J 7 5
 
K Q J 10
J 6 2
A 6 4
Q 9 3
West North East South
      1 NT
3  3  4  All pass

 

Our declarer won the opening lead (not critical here whether you do or do not, though better technique to duck a round, in case spades break 4-2 and you can discard one on Diamond-smallJ) and laid down the Club-smallA. He now had to lose a trump trick, Diamond-smallA and two tricks in each major for down 3, -150. This was a horrible result for East-West when their opponents could make only 140 in hearts or 130 in diamonds. (A club lead beats 4Heart-small as declarer must lose a trump trick as long as West covers the Heart-smallJ.)

Thus, a good score awaited East-West if West could get out for down two. To do that, he had to get trumps right….and to do that, he had to remember the bidding. elephant never forgets.png

Who opened 1NT? Who must have at least two clubs? "South". Who forgot? "West!"

With that lesson learnt, you will have no trouble with the second deal. Here, ducking the opening lead would be a good idea. You had to lose a spade and maybe at trick 2, the opponents will help you, like switching to the Heart-smallA! Not today. They returned a second spade. So, what’s your plan?

You have to lose a spade. You have to lose one club. You have to lose Heart-smallA. So, there are a few conclusions you can draw:

  1. You cannot lose a diamond. It would be handy if the finesse worked.
  2. You must play trumps for just one loser.

How do you do that, missing A, J, T, 9 and 8? There is only one legitimate way. Play one opponent to hold A doubleton. Make them play low on the first round and then do not play a high trump on the second. Oh, have you decided which opponent to play for this holding? Why, the one who opened the bidding! elephant never forgets.png

North Deals
None Vul
Q J 6 4
A 10
Q 6 3
K J 8 6
8 2
Q 7 5 4
K 9 7
Q 10 7 4
 
N
W   E
S
 
A 5 3
K 6 3 2
A J 2
A 9 2
 
K 10 9 7
J 9 8
10 8 5 4
5 3
West North East South
  1 NT Dbl 2 
Pass Pass Dbl Pass
2  Pass 3  Pass
4  All pass    

 

Once you worked that out, the hand played itself..with your help! Win the Spade-smallA at trick 2 and ruff a spade to hand. Now play a heart to the king and a second heart, playing Heart-small7 from hand. North can only exit a diamond. So, finesse and now play a heart to your queen, to draw their last trump.

Who has the Club-smallK? It must be North. Why? Since South held the Spade-smallK (the opening lead of Spade-smallQ told declarer where the king was) and Heart-smallJ, North must hold the rest of the high cards to have opened 1NT. Do a quick add. So, to ensure just one club loser, lead the Club-smallQ from hand. The good news has just got better and better…and you will soon be writing down +420 and have a very happy partner and team-mates. That was all because you remembered the bidding. No shame in being likened to an animal who “never forgets”. Is there?

Richard Solomon

elephant never forgets.png

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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