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New To The Table. The Play of the Hand.

A Change of Plan.

You make your plan when you first see dummy. Sometimes, something goes wrong and you have to make an abrupt change if you are to have any chance of making your contract. Take this week’s hand:

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

 

We would have loved to be in 2Spade-small when we saw dummy but we felt we had to invite with 3Spade-small and were very glad partner turned the invitation down. The lead was Club-smallQ and we decided that if trumps broke evenly, we could afford to lose just three hearts and the Diamond-smallA with any potential fourth heart loser disappearing on the established Diamond-smallK.

However, when we cashed the three top spades, West discarded a club on the third round, meaning we had to lose a spade trick as well. What could be done? With four potential heart losers in our own hand, there was nothing immediately we could do to reduce that number to less than three. There were still two chances that we could make our contract….and you would be pleased to know that both would/could have worked.

plan B.jpg

Both relied on you realising that the opening lead of the Club-smallQ might work in your favour. Where there’s a queen there is usually a jack and where is AKT in dummy, there is a chance of a finesse and a discard from your hand.

Your first chance is to do nothing much…just play a diamond towards dummy. Two good things could happen. Firstly, West might duck the first round or even might win and not be able to take three heart tricks… or if East wins Diamond-smallA,  that three heart tricks cannot be taken. We call it a blockage. Take a look:

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

 

The defence can only take two heart tricks and your other two small hearts disappear on Diamond-smallQ and Club-smallK (assuming you play the Club-small10 on the second round of the suit).

Perhaps, a better line is to take that club finesse immediately and discard your diamond on the third round of clubs, whether or not East ruffs. Say East does not. You are now home if hearts break 3-3 (3 heart losers and Spade-smallJ). You have one more chance. Play a low heart from the dummy and a low one from your hand too. It matters not if hearts break 3-3 but here you avoid 4 heart losers as your Heart-smallT will set up for a trick. A bit fortunate but no harm in trying for an extra chance.  

So, sometimes Plan A does not work and there may be another chance of making your contract. There was thus nothing lost by playing the hand in 3Spade-small. In fact, you might get a good score because those who stopped in 2Spade-small may have just taken their 8 safe tricks. Nevertheless, it is still a good idea to play a board in as low level a contract as you can if you are not going to game.

Richard Solomon

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