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PLAY and DEFENCE for Improving Players

PAIRS AND TEAMS PHILOSOPHY

They can be the same and they can be so different. One similarity would be when you are in a normal contract, you would not risk going down in your contract by taking a finesse for the sake of an overtrick, unless you were really “shooting for tops”. Get your 60% board at Pairs and you will often find an overtrick will come ..and even if it does not, that 60% might actually be a little higher than it seemed or should have been. Taking such a finesse at Teams is a big big crime if it endangers your contract. Only think of doing so if your partner is away getting the coffee… and swiftly reject the thought!

However, let’s look at a situation where there is a difference. You are East:

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

 

South opens with a Weak 2 in spades, swiftly raised to the spade game. Your partner leads the Diamond-small5 which goes to your 10 and the Diamond-smallQ in declarer’s hand. At trick 2, a low spade goes to the Spade-small5, Spade-smallK and your ace. Which card do you play, if the name of the game is:

  1. Match-point Pairs
  2. Teams?     

Get Them Quick

What is apparent is that if you are going to get any tricks here, you had better get them quickly as that diamond suit looks pretty ominous. You should also know the count of the trump suit since South started announcing they had a six card suit (and not very good ones!). Therefore, the very slim chance of giving your partner a diamond ruff should be left for another day.

That does not mean that your philosophy is going to be the same in the two types of Bridge mentioned above.

Pairs is not about beating contracts. It can be but it is about taking as many tricks as a defender as you can. Therefore, if you have two club tricks to take, take them now. If not take what you can and switch to a heart…partner might have the ace. So, playing Pairs, we should try the Club-smallA and look for an encouraging card from your partner if they have the king. No king, and partner should discourage.

However, while restricting overtricks is useful at Teams too, +50 is a much better score with which to return to teammates….and occasionally apologize when you concede 480 instead of 450 or 420. So, you would play Club-small2. You would play Club-small2 whether you hold Club-smallQ or Club-smallA not from Club-smallAQ. Declarer knows you would not have both but does not know which one you hold. As the full deal demonstrates, you could yet defeat the contract:

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

 

Should partner win the Club-smallQ, they next cash the Heart-smallA before switching back to the club so you win your ace and beat the contract. Were you playing Pairs, your Club-smallA at trick 3 should enable you to score -420…maybe no great score, 40%, 55% but not the bottom that -480 would have given you had declarer guessed correctly.

Match-point Pairs is about avoiding those bottoms, getting the average plusses and on a good day, some tops to go with them. At Teams, you will take the risks to come back with +50 and 10 imps and occasionally concede an overtrick or two in the process.

Two different facets of our fascinating game.

Richard Solomon

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