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PLAY and DEFENCE for Improving Players

MISSED GAME: STILL PLAY CAREFULLY

So you played in a stupid part-score contract when you see that slam in a different suit is cold? Don’t give up. Try and make +90 even in your 3-1 fit. It might just be worth + 4 imps when the cold slam fell to a bad break. Read on….

You may sometimes look at dummy and wish you were a level or two higher. Too late, the bidding’s over. You cannot call the director and ask for the contract to be changed! What you can do is make sure you take advantage of the rare occasion when your contract is the correct one. Watch:

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

 

West led a top diamond and South rather regretted their pessimism..or wished their partner had been more optimistic (the “blame” as to who should have been more aggressive could be saved for the post mortem! We will conduct one below.) The spade game looked a pretty good contract for the loss of two spade tricks and one diamond.

At trick 2, West switched to a small club with East covering the 10 with the jack. South won and played Spade-smallA and a small spade….and the roof fell in!

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

 

West who had played Spade-small3 to the first spade, played three top spades, leaving South with no trumps in either hand. The other top diamond was cashed with the contract being one down. Ouch! Careless, perhaps thoughtless play by South.

If spades broke 3-2, there was no stopping 4Spade-small making except possibly if there was a hand with a singleton club and a doubleton spade..pretty unlikely. With no real danger to one’s contract, the trump suit should be played a little more carefully by ducking a round of spades. With a 4-1 trump break, you have retained trump control. You are still on lead when the bad break is discovered. (If trumps had broken 5-0, don’t buy a Lotto ticket!).

So South should certainly have ducked the first round of spades, though on this deal there is some added information. West opened the bidding and will have almost all the opposition’s honour cards. Almost certainly Spade-smallKQ and maybe the jack too. West will not have a singleton spade. Say East does. The best way to duck a spade and see what East’s singleton is, is to lead a spade away from the ace. Remember, you are in 3Spade-small. You are hoping for a bad trump break!

So, win trick one in dummy and lead Spade-small4 and cover Spade-small9 with the 10 losing to West’s jack. West may continue clubs. Win with the ace and lead your Spade-small2. When West plays Spade-small3, you can insert Spade-small5 and feel a warm glow when East shows out. (If you want a really memorable story, when you lead from dummy at trick 2, lead Spade-small5 retaining Spade-small4 for the very deep finesse on the second round..second round of trumps won by Spade-small4!).

On the actual lay-out, you will now make an overtrick in 3Spade-small and wish you were a level higher! However, 4Spade-small cannot be made if West starts with two high diamonds as the North hand is now a trump short for these low-level trump plays and the eventual drawing of trumps.

Even if the first spade lost to East's Spade-small9 (undesirable after the club switch at trick 2 as East can play a second diamond through the queen), South should still come to 9 tricks, because they retained trump control. It would be a real shame having to explain to your teammates, who had just beaten 4Spade-small by one trick how you had gone down in 3Spade-small! 6 imps lost, not in the bidding but in the play!

Careful.png

And let’s see who should have bid more aggressively. Since South could have no points for their 1Spade-small bid, North’s 3Spade-small with 19 seems all right…though it is a very good 19..perhaps worth an upgrade? So, North could have bid 2Diamond-small, the cue-bid showing a strong hand, maybe but not necessarily with spades. Since South does have an ace and more, they would respond a natural   3Club-small, the change of suit showing a hand with some values. Now, North can bid 4Spade-small and hope for favourable breaks!

Richard Solomon

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