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PLAY and DEFENCE for Improving Players

CUTTING ONE’S LOSSES

Unless we know we are sacrificing, we bid games to make them. It is great if we do, especially with an overtrick or two. However, either partner’s hand is a let-down (never yours, of course!) , a bad break or good defence means you are going to fail.

Time to feel sad? Yes.cry

Time to give up? Certainly not!

If every pair in the room is in the same contract and suffers the same bad break or good defence (that latter scenario may happen, one day!), you will get an average board. However, you know that some pairs either by good judgement or good luck will have stayed in part-score so that you will never be getting 50% of the match-points on one board, However, your job is to ensure you score 40% on the board rather than 10% or less!

It is not a crime to be in 4Heart-small with a combined 23hcp and on normal breaks, only three losers. So, watch the following:

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

 

2Diamond-small was Multi-coloured with 3Diamond-small confirming a poor weak 2 in hearts. Your Heart-smallQJ look like useful fillers and so you bid to the heart game. On the Spade-smallK lead, it looks like you can make this game for the loss of Heart-smallA,Club-smallA and a spade trick.

So, you win your Spade-smallA and play Heart-smallQ noting an ominous looking Heart-smallT on your left. East wins the Heart-smallA and switches to the Diamond-small2. You win this trick and play your Heart-smallJ but West who had played Diamond-small5 on your ace (low encouraging), throws Club-small4 on this second round of hearts. Which card do you play next at trick 5?

 cutting losses.png

Declarer had to get to table to play any more trumps and decided to cash a second high diamond, a play that had very little to gain but had much to lose:

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

 

East ruffed the Diamond-smallK and played a spade to West’s jack who returned a third diamond…and the Heart-small9 had to score a trick with declarer two down. That result scored very poorly for declarer.

It might have been wiser for South to have ducked the opening spade lead (as there was a certain spade loser) to cut communications between the defenders’s hands. It would have been vital here had East held a doubleton spade, even if trumps broke 3-2.

However, if West liked diamonds, there was a distinct possibility that East did indeed have a singleton diamond. South knew they had to lose two trump tricks. They needed to avoid losing three.

If West held the Club-smallA as well as a spade entry, and that Diamond-small2 was a singleton, there was nothing South could now do. South had to hope West had only one entry, in spades, and that East had Club-smallA.

So, it was vital that at trick 5, South exited with a spade, to cut the communication, create an entry to dummy and limit their losses. West would win the trick, give East their ruff but East could no longer get to their partner’s hand to suffer a second ruff.

The contract was good. The trump break was unlucky. The subsequent play at the table was not the best and the end result was a very poor score for North-South. When you are down, you are not necessarily “out” as long as you keep thinking. Keep those losses to a minimum.

Richard Solomon

 

 

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