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PLAY and DEFENCE for Improving Players

SECOND PLAYER PLAYS…..

You know the rule. You learnt it five or ten or thirty years ago in the days when you wanted to be dummy…less pressure. It’s good to know that the rule is alive and very well. Yet, there is another rule which most bridge players know only too well.

Come on. Try this one. A little “warmer – up”:

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

 

2NT was artificial, game forcing with heart support. East destroyed any constructiveness in your bidding sequence..and moments later, you were playing 5Heart-small on the lead of Club-small5. East won the lead with the Club-smallQ and after a little thought, played Diamond-small3. Over to you?

Anyone for finessing? If the finesse works, you will wish you were in slam as you will make the rest of the tricks. What will happen if the finesse fails? Since the Diamond-small3 is the lowest diamond out, you will very likely fail in 5Heart-small as East will ruff the diamond return for a third trick for the defence.

If you were in 6Heart-small, then you would have to take the finesse as that would be your best chance of making 12 tricks. The key point is that by rising with the ace, you will not go down in 5Heart-small, unless in the very remote circumstance that East has got 4 diamonds along with 7 or 8 clubs.

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

 

If East is very long in one suit, they are therefore going to be quite short in others. Play with the odds: ensure 11 tricks: no finesse. Second player does not play low this time.The old yardstick has been proven wrong here.

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

 A nice short auction..and a nice non-threatening lead, Club-small2. With no opposition bidding, the chances of that being a singleton must be pretty remote. So, you relax and take the finesse. (“Second player plays low.”) Hey, no club loser if they have led away from the king.  

Well, they had not and another cold contract had just bitten the dust.

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

 

East switched to the Diamond-small10. South won this in dummy without playing the queen from hand, the correct play if West held the Heart-smallA. However, they did not. Declarer drew trumps in three rounds and played the Heart-smallQ taken by East’s ace. Back came the Diamond-small9 which resulted in two diamond losers along with the Heart-smallA and Club-smallK…one down.

South did not foresee the danger and did not plan the hand. While a bad trump break might make play awkward, there should be no such problem with the normal 3-2 break…as long as declarer had control of the diamond suit.

With two losing diamonds able to be discarded on dummy’s hearts, and a third round of clubs ruffed in dummy, declarer could not lose more than one trick in each side suit, as long as the Club-smallA won the first trick. What was that rule that we had just ignored again? Second player does indeed play “low” as long as there is no great risk in doing so.

On both the above deals, there was a greater risk in finessing/ ducking and in each case a cold contract went down.

Oh, that second rule! Something like “there is an exception to every rule.” We saw two such exceptions above.

break the rules.png

when it’s right to do so.

 

Richard Solomon

 

 

 

 

 

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