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New To The Table. The Play of the Hand.

Lucky Lie.

So, there you are in your 4 heart contract. What you can say is that it looks a better contract than 3NT. You made a good choice when you elected to play in your 5-3 heart fit.

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

 

Have you counted your losers yet? One in spades, two maybe three in hearts if you have to play the suit yourself and some doubt about having one, maybe even two losers in clubs, depending on where the queen is and how the suit breaks. That is far too many losers to even contemplate! Being a little more optimistic, the only cards we have to lose tricks to are the Heart-smallAK and a spade…

…. a spade? No way. Surely we saw that we have the chance to discard our second spade on the third round of diamonds. Come on, be positive, we might even make an overtrick!

So, we have a plan for the next three tricks. Win Spade-smallA and play a diamond to the jack and then Diamond-smallA discarding our remaining spade. We did that but rather strangely, East ruffed the third diamond with the Heart-smallA and played a second spade.

You ruffed low and wondered why East played Heart-smallA. Surely they would have ruffed with a lower heart if they had one? Did this mean that West started with Heart-small KT95. If that was their trump suit, the only way to avoid three more trump losers was to play H6 and were West to play H5, to play H2 from dummy. ( if that was West's heart holding, they should cover Heart-small6 with their 9...but that's their problem!)

West did play Heart-small5…but East did have one more heart!

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

 

 It did not matter this time how you played the trump suit because once East had ruffed, you were always only going to lose two hearts by playing low fromdummy. Note that East had to ruff in case you had two spade losers to discard on diamonds, though that was not the case.

When East won their Heart-smallK and played a third spade , you had to ruff low trusting West would have started with at least three spades. Now, draw West’s two trumps with Heart-smallJ and Heart-smallQ (if you had played Heart-smallJ when you played the first round of trumps, you will now lose a third trump trick and would have to rely on the club finesse to make your contract).

With the Club-smallQ popping up very conveniently on the second round of the suit, you could make an overtrick! Note that something strange had happened. You did not lose a club trick even though South’s fourth club would be a loser.

The reason is that by ruffing, or being forced to do so by East, two spades in your hand, you had made the dummy hand high! There were no losers in dummy. Forget about your hand!

This is a tricky technique called a "dummy reversal" where you make dummy the hand with all the winners rather than your own. The opposition forced you into doing that here. Forget the name and the technique for now. It will reappear when you are more experienced.

For now, remember you were right not just to bid game but to make the right choice in your 5-3 heart fit. 3NT had almost no chance of success despite the favourable lie of the Club-smallQ. Do what the majority of players would do in your position and you will rarely get a very bad score. With 25 hcp and a 5-3 heart fit, most will play 4Heart-small. If the cards lie badly for you, the contract will fail and at most tables, including yours, the result will be -50 or -100. On a good day, you will get an average plus score for getting 420 or miraculously even 450 (450 is an excellent score even with the above East-West hands).

lucky day.jpg

Staying out of game will occasionally give you a top but you are risking and would have got a very bad score this time.

Richard Solomon

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