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Tales of Akarana

Safety Plays..if you can afford them.

Two 3NT contracts illustrated principles of safety plays though in one case, it was doubtful that the declarers could afford to take one. Here was one which should be taken.

Board 19
South Deals
E-W Vul
5
Q J 8 2
A 9 7 3
A 7 4 2
Q 8 6 2
10 7 4
J 10 5 4 2
J
 
N
W   E
S
 
J 9 4 3
A K 9 5 3
8
Q 8 5
 
A K 10 7
6
K Q 6
K 10 9 6 3
West North East South
      1 
Pass 1  Pass 1 
Pass 2 NT Pass 3 NT
All pass      

 

Despite declarer’s heart bid, East led a low heart against 3NT with Heart-small10 drawing declarer’s queen. If diamonds broke evenly, then a declarer would only need their top two clubs to make 9 tricks.

However, initially clubs offered a better opportunity to make at least 9 tricks..but declarer did not want to lose the lead to West who was itching to play a second heart. So, cross to dummy with a diamond at trick 2 and play Club-smallT intending to play low if West did not play an honour. When the jack appeared declarer won in hand to play a second club…no finesse. They lost a club trick to the safe East hand and North soon had 10 tricks. (playing Club-smallK and then Club-small A was an alternatively successful line.)

What, though, would be your plan with the following on a low heart lead from North?

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

 

2Diamond-small seems a strange choice of second bid but even after a 2Spade-small response instead, there is still the opportunity of reaching 3NT, with the West hand as declarer, good protection on either red suit lead.

The heart lead gives West a little time in that all being well in the spade suit, they only have to lose the lead once in clubs to make 9 tricks. The unknown position of the two minor aces makes any safety play in the spade suit “less safe" .Our declarer tried spades from the top and ended three down when all was not well in that suit:

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

 

The spade “safety play” (small to the 10) becomes a dangerous play as half the time, not only will there be a spade loser but also two hearts, (assuming a 4-4 break), Club-smallA and at best Diamond-smallA. Indeed, a wrongly placed Diamond-smallA would see declarer several light.

So, the so called safety play will only work half the time and even then West still required the minor suit aces split the way they were. So, no safety play and really maybe 4Spade-small was a better contract, really needing little more than a well -placed Diamond-smallA and at most only one loser in the major suits.

Sometimes, such"safety plays" are just not safe!

Richard Solomon

 

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