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PLAY and DEFENCE for Improving Players

HOPE SPRINGS ETERNAL

Dicey contract; wrong opening lead. You are on the back foot. Don’t panic. There is still hope!

You are sitting East and after you made an “I want to do something but I am not sure what” double, things have not really gone your way. You have started to work out the score for 3Spade-smallx making…but do not do that. Firstly, the bridgemate will do that for you. Secondly, the declarer has not claimed yet. Maybe he is playing for the overtrick!

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

 

2Spade-small was less than an opener with exactly 5 spades and 4+ cards in a minor. As East,passing North’s 3Spade-small did not seem right. Whatever your partner thought your double was,you were now defending 3Spade-smallx with partner leading a low heart. Declarer finessed by playing the jack and contributed the Heart-small10 from hand.

A diamond from South disappeared on the Heart-smallA. Next came a low trump to declarer’s 9 and West’s queen. Too late, your partner led Diamond-smallA and a second diamond, as South ruffed your king with Spade-small3 and exited Spade-smallK to your ace. These cards remained, with your side still needing two more tricks.

 
7
J 6 4
J
Q 9
   
N
W   E
S
 
6
9 8
A 10 4 2

 

Remember the bidding. You know South started with at least a 4 card club suit and has neither played nor thrown one. Since you know that South has no red cards left and that they started with 5 spades and you have seen three of them, you know South has five clubs along with two trumps left in their hand.

What you must not do is panic. If your partner has the Club-smallK (possible but that would only give South Spade-smallKJ and Club-smallJ), you will always make two tricks. What if South has the Club-smallK? You must not play a club (you will see why very soon) or indeed a heart as one ruff will set up two heart tricks in dummy (you know that). So, just exit quietly with your last trump.

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

 

South must win the trump in hand and play a club which you can win and now exit a heart since there is no longer any entry to dummy. Your Club-small10 becomes the fifth trick for the defence.

Can you see South’s error, because after the initial heart lead, the contract can be made. When South ruffs the diamond at trick 4, they must ruff with Spade-small10, not Spade-small3. This means that when you gain the lead with Spade-smallA, you cannot prevent declarer getting to dummy with Spade-small7 (or if you duck the second trump winning the third round, you actually end-play yourself!).

What you must not do is panic. In fact, even though the initial lead helped declarer and not the defence, as long as South takes the heart finesse the correct way, the defence will not score more than 5 tricks even after an initial diamond lead. Unfortunate lead but nothing lost.

So, as the saying might go, were it said by a bridge player: “where there’s no claim, there’s hope. “

Richard Solomon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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