All News

New To The Table. The Play of the Hand.

MANY CHOICES…and a VITAL DUCK. 

Too many. If only there was one way to play a contract, life would be a lot easier…but then Bridge would not be the exciting and absorbing game it is. So, let’s get back to the problem of making 3NT.

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

 

West has led Diamond-smallJ. We need to score at least 9 tricks. They must not get 5. They have attacked our weakest suit, not a good start. So, let’s first of all see how many tricks we have:

Spades          3 for sure…4 if the suit breaks evenly (3 cards in each opponent’s hand or if one opponent holds JT doubleton)

Hearts          2 for sure…3 maybe

Diamonds    1 for sure…no chance of any more

Clubs            2 for sure… with chances of 2 more if we lose a trick first

                       (we can score 5 tricks if QJ are doubleton or if West has both Q and J and some small ones too)

What we do know is that we have 8 tricks for sure and thus only need one more.

We will discuss which suit to play shortly.

The danger

There is a big danger on this board, that of losing four diamond tricks if one opponent has started with five and that you lose the lead in a different suit. We do not know that either opponent has 5 as each could have 4…and if one opponent has 5, we do not know which one. (Neither opponent bid.)

Can we make 9 tricks without losing the lead?

The answer is “maybe”. We could play 3 rounds of spades but if that suit did not break 3-3, an opponent would have a winning spade to cash. That would be really bad if diamonds broke 4-4 because we would lose 3 diamonds, 1 spade and a heart or a club…down 1.

Therefore, playing spades is a bad idea. (unless SSpade-smallJ or 10 appeared on the first round of the suit in which case play a second high spade to see if you are in luck.)

We could play hearts and take the finesse and if it works, you have 9 top tricks.

We could also play clubs and play Club-small10 from hand, playing low if West plays low.

Either of the above are legitimate lines and unlike the play of spades, will give you extra trick(s) when you regain the lead. Notice you can take the heart finesse through either opponent (play Heart-smallA and then small to the jack or play the jack and then low from dummy).

Too many choices… but one thing is certain!

Do Not Win Trick 1…

…. Or trick 2 if the opponents continue diamonds. If you have to lose the lead, then you want to do what you can to stop the opponents communicating with each other and scoring tricks in the danger suit (diamonds). If diamonds break 4-4, it does not matter to which opponent you lose the lead. If the suit breaks 5-3, then you want to lose the lead to the opponent who has 3 diamonds since they cannot continue the suit…as long as you ducked the lead twice.

(The reason that A and two small cards is a good holding is that you CAN duck the lead twice. If you held A and only one small card, you can only duck once.)

Decision time.             Decision Time.jpg

You ducked the diamond play twice, won the third round ….and then?

If you played the hand that led Diamond-smallJ for a five-card suit and played Heart-smallJ at trick 4, or Club-small10 finessing, you would have made your contract:

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

 

Either of those lines stated above would enable you to make your contract. You would score at least 9 tricks with that heart or club play but would have gone one down had you played Heart-smallA and a second heart to the jack.

As there was only one heart honour missing as compared with two in clubs, the heart play offered slightly better chances of success.

So, cash just one top spade (2 if Spade-smallJ or 10 comes down on the first round.)

Then play hearts.

Since diamonds was the unbid suit, West could have led Diamond-smallJ from JTx or equally from the actual holding. What was certain was that you must hold up the Diamond-smallA for two rounds as stated above.

Richard Solomon

p.s. If when you duck the first two rounds of diamonds and you discover that one opponent has 6 diamonds and the other 2, then you must always take the finesse towards the hand with just 2 diamonds so that you know a diamond cannot be played, should the finesse lose.

Go Back View All News Items

Our Sponsors
  • NZB Foundation
  • JLT and Chubb Logo square 02.jpg
  • City Council square logo.png
  • Ryman