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Play and Defend Better: for improving players

NEW YEAR: SAME OLD

Welcome to a brand-new year of bridge. New resolutions made..and for bridge players, that means wishes like:

  • no more dropping partner in part-score when you know you should be in game
  • no more forgetting to return partner’s suit… “but which suit did you lead?”
  • no more forgetting to thank partner for their dummy even if the hand they produced bore no resemblance to their bidding…at all!
  • no more forgetting to ruff your losing cards in dummy…..you only discovered those losers at trick 7 after you had drawn trumps! You know you were “counting” those losers 7 tricks too late!
    new year resolutions 1.jpg
      • No more…..

     

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

    You had just enough high cards to make a one round forcing 2Club-small bid. When dummy went down, you could see why that bid caused your partner to get excited. 4Club-small was a strong, natural bid. Partner was looking for slam. You were not or your 5Club-small bid seemed to indicate you were high enough in game. (Great…resolution 1 kept. You did not pass 4Club-small! Partner would not have appreciated that.)

    West led the Heart-small3 and it was time to play the hand. Well, the plan. Do you have one… at trick 1 not at trick 7. Have you made one?

    Our declarer was very keen to keep one more of their resolutions. Partner was thanked and Heart-small10 was played from dummy.

    Unfortunately, East remembered our defensive resolution. Not only "remember"which suit partner led but return it!

     

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

    Heart-smallK had won the first trick with West ruffing the heart return at trick 2. With no way to avoid a spade loser, 5Club-small was one down.

    “Bad luck” North was heard to say at the end of the board, with a sympathetic smile.
    That’s the mark of a truly good partner. Keep your partner happy during a session of bridge. It improves their play and your results. North knew that South had got their just desserts for a play that was not the best.

    Did you count your losers after that Heart-small3 opening lead? A certain loser in spades, one in hearts, one in diamonds and none in clubs barring a bad break with a defender having all 4 trumps.

    Could any loser be avoided?  Yes, the diamond loser could be ruffed in dummy.

    That left a maximum of two losers (a heart and a spade) barring that bad trump break….and even if clubs broke 4-0, you would still be able to avoid a loser there by starting with Club-smallK (try it…whichever defender had 4 clubs.)

    South took what is rather cruelly called a “practice finesse”, a finesse which is unnecessary in that you will make your contract even if the finesse failed, but the ramifications of that failed finesse could be disastrous. They were!

    South started with 11 top tricks and finished up with 10. Certainly, South was unlucky with the heart break and that the singleton was a low heart. South would probably have made their contract had West’s singleton heart been say Heart-small9. That was where the bad luck ended.

    • No more endangering your contract with an unnecessary finesse.

    The argument that were this a Pairs event that South should finesse as they needed to make the overtrick (if the finesse worked) as South wanted to beat those in 3NT does not apply here. Had the finesse worked, South would have at least 11 top tricks (460) and scoring an overtrick in 5Club-small (420) would thus have achieved nothing. Thus, playing Pairs, our North-South were in a bad contract…unless other pairs were in 6Club-small, with the heart finesse failing. At least, thus, ensure yourself a plus score by making 5Club-small.

    Playing Teams, the first- round finesse is just plain wrong.

    Richard Solomon

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