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PLAY and DEFENCE for Improving Players

Keeping The Extra Chance up your Sleeve.

When you first see the sight of dummy and thank partner for the 13 cards they have produced which may or may not resemble their bidding, your next task is not to play a card from dummy but to plan the play of the board.

Your thoughts may range from just to take extra care to make your contract with maybe some overtricks to how can you escape from going three down, vulnerable! Never mind, you should have a plan even if it is just to follow to small cards and hope the defence get something wrong.

Several declarers failed to plan properly on the following board to give themselves the extra chance to make their contract.

What would your thoughts be when you saw dummy after the lead of Heart-small6 against the following 4Spade-small contract:

East Deals
None Vul
A Q 4
J 8 5
10 8 7 3
K 7 5
   
N
W   E
S
   
 
K 8 7 6 2
9
5 2
A Q 8 4 3
West North East South
    1  1 
2  2  4  4 
All pass      

 

You would probably have good thoughts. You seem to have three red suit losers and if there is a normal 3-2 club break, then you will have 10 tricks for a pretty good score as many East-West players will plough on to 5Heart-small which would be no more than 2 down.

So, these South players planned to win the lead, probably ruffing the second round of hearts, draw trumps and hope this would be their lucky day. (They may also have noticed that if either clubs or spades broke 4-1, preferably clubs, that 4Heart-small would be a making contract, making one down in 4Spade-small a good result for them.)

They did as they planned, drawing trumps in three rounds. Spades broke 3-2 and clubs broke 4-1…. Down one. What a shame as 4Spade-small was cold!

They failed to notice one thing. They could draw two rounds of trumps, just two, leaving one trump outstanding before testing the club suit. If everyone followed to two rounds, declarer could revert back to draw the last trump and then claim. If the second round of clubs was ruffed, you were never going to make 4Spade-small. Yet, there was as a third option:

East Deals
None Vul
A Q 4
J 8 5
10 8 7 3
K 7 5
J 10 9
7 6 2
K J 9
J 10 9 6
 
N
W   E
S
 
5 3
A K Q 10 4 3
A Q 6 4
2
 
K 8 7 6 2
9
5 2
A Q 8 4 3
West North East South
    1  1 
2  2  4  4 
All pass      

 

East had no trump left with which to ruff the second or third round of clubs. Thus, declarer could ruff a low club in dummy. Now a heart ruff back to hand, draw trump and cash two high clubs for your contract.

The key was only to draw two rounds of trumps before testing clubs. Normally, the player with the last trump will be the one who is short in clubs…normally but not always.

plan A  plan B.png

Give yourself an extra chance, albeit slim, in your planning. This time, the slim chance came up trumps. Did you take it?

Richard Solomon

 

 

 

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