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Play and Defend Better..a piece of bidding and The Lighter Side of Bridge

PLAY and Defend Better….a piece of bidding….and The Lighter Side of Bridge.

Three articles around one bridge deal.

How do you rate your partner?

Now, that is a very interesting question. You can see in print what your partner thinks of you, or your declarer play to be exact. Were you playing in the National Open Teams at Tauranga during the past week-end? Were you sitting South during the late morning on Saturday? If so, prepared to be rated!

There were 26 players in that “hot” South seat. This is how the ratings went:

“Blind” or misguided faith”                           6

“The Believers”                                           8

“ Oh ye of little faith”                                   5

“The Realists”                                            7

                                                                 ---

                                                                 26

                                                                ---

So, there you are as North and you unfold from the board a hand of beauty…way more than your usual 6 count:

Spade-small K85             Heart-small KQJ             Diamond-small AKQ3        Club-small A74

  1. You wonder whether it is really 22 or worth devaluing to 21…bad shape, probably wasted points in hearts. What should you open? 20-21 or 22-23? While you wonder which, your partner puts something on the bidding pad, not a pass…and not some weak bid requiring a stop card either. Yes, a real hand over there. They open 1Club-small.

You respond with your only 4 card suit and partner’s rebid of 1NT shows 15-17. All 26 players would have (big clubs excepted) the same style auction as strong no-trumpers open 1NT with 15-17.

22 + 15 = 37. I did the calculation 3 times, added my own points at least 4 times and decided we could not be missing an ace. Wait. Partner has upgraded a 14 count. The only card the defence hold is that solitary ace! Time for Gerber. It’s OK. Partner has them all. What now? Ask for kings? Well, you have three. Partner surely has one!

That textbook you learnt from 20, 30, 40 years ago (it is still true even if you learnt 20 weeks ago) says that with 37 combined high card points, two flat hands should make 7NT…and why should we not have 39? So, partner awakes from his slumber as you write 7NT on the bidding pad.

They lead Diamond-smallJ (hey, there is only a maximum two jacks or a queen missing now.) and you spread your dummy awaiting those immortal words “thank you, partner” to be followed by a quick claim as partner spreads their hand and works out whether they have 15 or 17 tricks. You are half right. You got the thanks…and then a lengthy “tank”!  So, here they are:

 

Board 22
East Deals
E-W Vul
K 8 5
K Q J
A K Q 3
A 7 4
   
N
W   E
S
   
 
A Q 9 6
A 9 3
8 2
K Q 8 5

 

(if North really did devalue their hand, then they should make the textbook bid of 5NT after 1NT, a request for partner to bid 6NT with a minimum or 7NT with a maximum. The wait while partner remembers that 5NT is forcing would have been too long and agonising for many!)

You have three top tricks in every suit with a 3-3 split in either black suit, plus Spade-smallJ10 offering you an easy 13th. Yet, what if none of these friendly breaks occur? Do you wish you were one level lower?

The answer is “not yet”

Board 22
East Deals
E-W Vul
K 8 5
K Q J
A K Q 3
A 7 4
J 7 4 2
10 8 6 4
J 10 9
J 6
 
N
W   E
S
 
10 3
7 5 2
7 6 5 4
10 9 3 2
 
A Q 9 6
A 9 3
8 2
K Q 8 5

 

Pointless and Helpless

That was East. You are not dealt a single high card point and yet you are squeezed out of the setting trick!

So, at trick 2, cash three rounds of spades which sees East discard a heart. Off to the clubs. Three rounds of that suit sees West also discard a heart. No defensive discomfort so far. So, play off your hearts, making sure that the third round of the suit is won in the South hand (you need to be there before embarking on the diamonds.). The first two rounds of hearts produces no pain from the opposition though the third round seems not so pleasant for East. East has three diamonds and the master club.

Gone… squeezed…as South has Club-small8, a diamond and a losing spade. Declarer does not even have to count diamonds if East discards one.. Just watch which card East throws. How nice when you play Diamond-small3 confidently at trick 13.

You did play it confidently, didn’t you? No, dangling it there wondering if it was high. Blame the dealer it was not the Diamond-small7 as what a nice time to slot “the beer card” that would have been. OK..admit it..Diamond-small3 is just as good!).

The experts say that this squeeze, where either defender holds four diamonds and four cards in either black suit is a better bet than running both red suits, hoping a defender has four cards in both black suits. That squeeze only works on East as declarer would have to discard first if it was West who held both black suits.

So, how did those East players feel, pointless (the word is usually “irrelevant” in a hand write-up) but squeezed?

However, back to the partner rating.

“Blind” or “misguided faith”                  6   7NT down 1

“ The Believers”                                   8   7NT making 13 tricks

“Oh ye of little faith”                             5   6NT making 13 tricks

“The Realists”                                      7    6NT making 12 tricks

Me… whatever the result, I’m with the text-book.

Richard Solomon

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