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PLAY and DEFENCE for Improving Players

                   ASSIGNING BLAME

As well as being a story about a bridge hand, this is a story about attitude at the bridge table. We know that our game is littered with mistakes…and there was more than one committed by the defence in the board which follows.

Firstly, though, we will put you in South’s seat. The bidding was straightforward. West opened a natural 4Diamond-small which was passed out. This is what you saw as dummy and in your own hand:

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

 

Your partner leadsClub-small 5 to the jack and your ace, declaring playing the Club-small3. You have no great inspiration other than returning partner’s suit and play back Club-small4. Declarer throws the Heart-smallJ with the trick being won by your partner’s Club-smallK.

Back comes Spade-small8 to dummy’s king and your ace. Three tricks in the bag…you only need one more. Which card do you lead to the next trick?

 

innovate ignite inspire.png

Are you feeling inspired?

South played back a second spade, which was not a success for the defence as this was the full lay-out.

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

 

The Spade-smallQ won the trick and was followed rapidly by the Club-smallJ and a second heart discarded from declarer’s hand. Declarer could not go wrong in drawing trumps and 4Diamond-small was made.

South was speechless..but North had plenty to say! Words like "you could see that any spade loser would be discarded on the Club-smallJ. The spade return was pointless. You just had to play a heart!" That was all we could repeat from North’s speech!

While West had done all they could to indicate that they held just the Heart-smallJ and no other hearts, North was, of course, correct. Returning a spade was not going to gain….or was it?

South might have argued, were they able to speak (!) that the Spade-small8 could have been a singleton. That would still leave room for an 8 card diamond suit. Yet, North may well have led a singleton spade at trick 1 with only a couple of small trumps.

Although there was no danger in doing so, players do not like leading away from K doubleton, especially with the queen on the table..even though West’s earlier Heart-smallJ discard should have made a heart switch safe..or in this case the winning play.

Yet, let the accuser enter the witness box. What did North know at trick 2? They knew that spades only offered the chance of one defensive trick since that Club-smallJ would be available to discard a third spade.

They also knew that they, North, did not hold a singleton spade! If West only had one heart, playing the Heart-smallA would be absolutely no cost to the defence, since the only way to dummy was likely to be in spades (unless East had no diamond higher than dummy’s Diamond-small8.

West should have played the Heart-smallA…and then there would have been no story.

It is not a good look when one defender gives their partner a lecture about what they should have done. It is even worse when they were the real culprit. “Cover your backside”…or words to the effect!

cover your backside.png

Defence is about co-operation, making it as easy for your partner as you can. North did not do that and laid the blame at the feet of the wrong defender. The spade return might even have been correct from East’s point of view. The one defender who knew for certain it was not was North.

Richard Solomon

 

 

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