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Play and Defend Better: for improving players

Bid it…and Make it. Catering for Normal Breaks.

It was really good that 9 out of the 16 pairs who played the following board in Teams matches bid to the excellent 6 spade contract. What was a shame was that of those 9 pairs who were playing this slam, recorded negative scores. It is excellent to bid a good slam but when the breaks are not that bad, it is a pity that more pairs did not make their contract. Let’s have a look.

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

 

Driving to slam would be very straightforward were North to open the bidding with their fairly ordinary 11 count. Where North passed, slam should still be able to be bid. The 4Club-small and 4Heart-small bids were both cue bids (showing first or second round controls in the suits bid) with 5Diamond-small showing 1 or 4 key cards with spades as trumps. 5Heart-small asked for the trump (spade) queen with 6Heart-small confirming that card and Heart-smallK but no other side-suit kings.

A normal lead would be either minor suit. Apart from the missing Spade-smallK, South has three potential losers to deal with, their two small hearts and Diamond-small10. Two hearts can be ruffed and the diamond discarded on the Club-smallA..or one heart ruffed and two losers discarded on the Club-smallAQ.

Ideally, you would want to discard on clubs after trumps are drawn..but that may not be possible. The difficulty is that you must ruff at least one heart before you draw trumps…and then you may have no way back to dummy to play clubs.

So, say you get a club lead. Win in hand and play three rounds of hearts, ruffing the third round with dummy’s Spade-small9. Discard the diamond loser on the Club-smallA and return to hand with a diamond. Now, ruff the other heart with the Spade-smallQ (unless West plays Spade-smallK) and then play Spade-small5 (retained so that you are not stuck in dummy) using the high trumps in the South hand to draw the remaining trumps once the Spade-smallK has gone.

North Deals
None Vul
Q 9 5
K 10
9 8 4
A Q 9 4 2
K 4 2
Q 9 2
Q 7 6
J 10 6 3
 
N
W   E
S
 
7 6
J 8 7 6
J 5 3 2
8 7 5
 
A J 10 8 3
A 5 4 3
A K 10
K

 

The only times when your contract will be in danger is if there is a 6-1 heart or club break, which is well against the odds. When the breaks are friendly as indeed they were, the contract should be made.

Two pairs found their way to 6NT, a contract which should fail. Declarer has only 4 spade tricks, 2 tricks in each red suit and 3 club tricks. However, discarding is not always easy and both declarers made their contracts.

Bidding and making the correct slam is excellent. Failing in this slam is a shame. Bidding to the wrong slam but making it is…well, everyday bridge!

Richard Solomon

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