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New To The Table. The Play of the Hand.

 Playing a Tough Part-Score Contract.                
We left you as declarer in the  following deal in your part-score spade contract after West had led the jack of hearts. What are you going to play to trick 2? Dummy was reasonable with three trumps and a couple of tricks.

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

 Contract: 2Spade-small by South. Lead Heart-smallJ.

1NT showed 12-14 and 2Diamond-small at least 5 hearts. As far as losers are concerned, all we can say with confidence is that we have no losers in the opposition’s suit. However, we could easily lose two tricks in each of the other three suits…one down! That would be a shame. We are in a reasonable contract.

We know that most of the high-card points we cannot see are with West and most of the hearts with East (though West opened 1NT and therefore has either 2 or 3 hearts). While it looks like we almost certainly will lose 2 diamond tricks, if we can keep East off lead, then maybe we can avoid losing two club tricks as well.

Let’s see all 4 hands:

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

 

One approach is to start with the trump suit. Win with Heart-smallQ and lead Spade-smallJ and if West plays low, do so as well. However, West is likely to play Spade-smallQ. You win with the ace and play a second spade. Bad news as East throws a small heart. West wins and continues a second heart.

You are in dummy and must now play Diamond-smallJ. Notice that for the defence to score two diamond tricks, East needs to play low. To make your contract, you need to guess right and play Diamond-smallK. If you do that and then cash your third heart trick, the defence cannot then score two tricks in each minor suit.

You thus can “slither home” to make your contract. However, you would make you contract more easily had you won the first heart with the king and then played two more rounds of hearts discarding a club from dummy. (Had West ruffed the third round, you could have over-ruffed.)

With West having most of the defence’s high cards, they will find it hard to find safe cards to play when they win tricks. Indeed, if you did that and then played Spade-smallJ and a second spade as above, West has no safe exit. Either black suit reduces the losers in those suits to one while Diamond-small9 might work though as you can see is a dangerous exit card and even if South misguesses when a diamond comes back, West will be totally end-played, that is having no safe exit card.

Was it worthwhile to bid 2Spade-small?

So 2Spade-small can be made which makes our decision to balance over the opposition’s 2Heart-small contract worthwhile.

Would 2Heart-small have made? There are three heart losers ,one diamond loser and one spade loser. So, in bidding 2Spade-small, you have done really well for your side. Playing Pairs, even if you failed by one trick in playing 2Spade-small, you will still have done well as -100 is better for you than -110. Playing Teams Bridge, to score well, you would have to make 2Spade-small.

There is always a risk when you “balance” in the “pass-out” seat but there are so many good things that could happen, that this risk is often worthwhile.

Richard Solomon

 

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