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PLAY and DEFENCE for Improving Players

WELL BID….and WELL PLAYED?

When you make the right decision in the bidding, you want to follow it up by playing the hand correctly. Hopefully, that means making your contract!

So, plan the play in the following 3NT contract. While overtricks are nice to have, try to ensure 9 first.

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

 

2Heart-small promised five hearts and five cards in a minor suit, 6-10 high card points. 3Heart-small was a transfer showing five spades. West led Diamond-smallQ with East playing Diamond-small6 at trick 1. Over to you?

The play

Declarer won the Diamond-smallK in dummy to try to protect the diamond suit from being set up for the defence next time round and played a spade to the 10, which held the trick. Both defenders followed low to the Spade-smallA with West winning the third round of spades with the king. Dummy became a distant memory…no entry! Even worse, East’s low club discard (“low” encouraging”) told West what to do. West played Club-small9. Whether or not declarer put up Club-smallQ, they were doomed.

South scored two tricks in each major and diamonds and the Club-smallA for down 2. That was a shame as passing 3NT was the correct decision as these were the four hands:

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

 

IF ONLY...

With a spade, a heart and two club losers (or a club and a diamond ruff), 4Spade-small had to fail. So would 3NT had West found an initial Club-small9 lead…but they did not. Let’s count tricks for South in 3NT at trick 1. With the Heart-smallKQ likely to be with East, South could count on four spade tricks, two in each red suit and the Club-smallA (with the Club-smallK with West as a fall-back if something unpleasant happened in the heart suit.)There would be a chance of an easier 9 tricks had East held the Spade-smallK though the bidding suggested otherwise.

So, preserve that vital certain entry to dummy as you will need four spade tricks. Win the first diamond in hand and play Spade-smallA and a second spade. West will win the third round and switch to the Club-small9, knowing that diamonds are not going to run. South plays low from dummy and wins the Club-smallA. Is it too much to expect that East holds the Club-smallK, since they ask for the suit to be led? Therefore, cross to dummy with Diamond-smallA and run the remaining spades throwing diamonds from hand.

Play a heart off table and insert the jack if East plays low. If East plays an honour, duck as East must play back a heart or cash Club-smallK. You know East has no more diamonds. The defence can take at best two clubs, a spade and a heart if they exit a second round of hearts. You may even make an overtrick!

Weak two suited openings have their drawbacks on defence which South could have exploited here. As is so often the case, the play at trick 1 was vital. Were you on the right track?

Richard Solomon

 

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