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PLAY and DEFENCE for Improving Players

Go for Gold..but how?

A touch of overbidding but you have ended in not too bad a contract…at least on their opening lead. You are in 3NT and there are only two suits wide open! So, let’s see how many tricks we can count.

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

 

West led the Heart-small2 and you realise at the sight of dummy that you should have passed 2Diamond-small. That looks a much better contract. Come on, though, dummy could be worse. One heart trick, four in diamonds (if that suit does not break, it’s definitely time to cut your losses!) and then there’s the spade suit.

You did notice the Spade-smallT, didn’t you? Is it there to torment or to aid you..one+ four + four = nine. Making 9 tricks. Surely a top as no-one else will be in this contract? There is just the little matter of how to get four spade tricks. Have you worked out what you should do?

Had East held the Heart-smallA, a club switch would almost certainly have beaten you as West would have at least one of the top clubs. Remember that take-out double? However, you are still alive as the Heart-small9 from East forced your king at trick one. So, you cash your diamond tricks and West follows to two rounds so that you do have four tricks there. West throws Club-small6 then Club-smallJ while East throws Club-small3 (low encouraging… they both like clubs. You know that!)

So, how do you play the spade suit?

With other pairs making 8 or 9, maybe even 10 tricks in diamonds and 7 or 8 in no trumps, it is probably not going to make much difference if you go one, two or even three down. You need four spade tricks badly.

Did you finesse?

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

 

The evidence.

Firstly, without any outside evidence and in a normal play with the field type situation, you would play the Spade-smallQ followed by Spade-smallAK and hope the jack falls in the first three rounds. Yet, as described, this is not a normal situation.

There are two reasons to finesse on the second round. West’s take-out double indicates that they are likely (certainly not guaranteed) to hold a four card spade suit and will certainly have most of the defence’s high card points. In that statement is enough evidence to finesse.

Yet, if you believe them, and why not, both defenders appear to have a top club honour. Give East the Club-smallK and West can have no more than 13 hcp for their take-out double. Yes, they could have only 12 missing the Spade-smallJ but go with the odds, play Spade-smallT and very soon you will be writing down +400. No overtricks today!

What’s the secret?

  • Remember the bidding.
  • Cash your long suit first.
  • Go with the odds.

And, next time, pass 2Diamond-small. You may not be so lucky with the lead next time!

Richard Solomon

 

 

 

 

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