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PLAY and DEFENCE for Improving Players

Follow the Rule, even if you are not sure why.

(for less experienced players…and others!)

We create lots of “do’s” and “do not’s” in Bridge and then come up sometimes with reasons why we should break the rules. If you think you have a good reason to break a rule, do so but otherwise trust them. If North had done so on the following board, he would not have been writing down a minus score on what might seem a mundane part-score board.

Part-score boards can be anything but mundane in whatever form of the game you are playing. 4% in most Pairs sessions. 5 or more valuable imps if you are playing Teams. The making or breaking of a Rubber if you are playing Rubber Bridge.

See the basic rule North broke here and the effect it had:

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


East’s 12-14 1NT bid opened and closed proceedings. Your partner, South, led the Spade-small5 with dummy’s king winning trick 1. The Diamond-smallJ brought a very royal trick, with your queen, declarer’s king and your partner’s ace. South continued a second low spade to Declarer’s jack. Three more rounds of diamonds were followed by a successful club finesse and declarer could thus count to 7 tricks by cashing his other club winner.

You see the problem? Only one error but a costly one. Why did you cover the Diamond-smallJ, when you can see the Diamond-small10 on the table? It is correct to cover an honour with an honour when it will or may produce a trick for your side though there could be no gain in covering the jack. If the jack had scored and declarer played the 10, there may be a benefit in covering that but not first time round.

Look what would have happened had you played low to the Diamond-smallJ. The best declarer can do is play low from hand allowing South’s ace to win the trick. South continues with a second low spade as before and declarer’s Spade-smallJ wins. East wants to get to dummy to repeat the diamond finesse. (playing the Diamond-small10 would bring in the suit for no more losers.) Thus, he plays a club to the jack hoping South has the king. No luck as the defence take two spade tricks. (East has to effectively throw a minor card.)

South exits a passive club. East can hope the Diamond-smallQ is doubleton…no joy.. or exit a heart. Declarer can take two tricks in each black suit and the Diamond-smallK, maybe a second diamond trick but the defence’s tricks will add up to 7 first.

Why?  Because North did not obey the basic rules about covering honours. “Do not cover the first of touching honours where there can be no apparent benefit to your side in doing so.” Good advice.

Richard Solomon



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