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Play and Defend Better: for improving players

CRIME DOESN’T PAY….OR DOES IT?

We are talking about “crime” in the bridge sense, of course. We would never advocate that committing any other kind of crime would be worthwhile, especially with Christmas, the season of goodwill to all, just around the corner.

So, it is time to spread just a little piece of goodwill to someone….but to whom, your partner or declarer? One of them will be happy with your choice of lead. We hope it will be your partner!

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

 

We know that a pre-empt is a 7 -card suit in the 6-10 high-card point range and that the pre-emptor should not have 4 or more cards in the other major. Otherwise, the rules on pre-empts are pretty much up to individuals. Some like to be aggressive. Others insist on two of the top three trump honours.

Ask a silly question...

Would you like to ask North what their partner’s views on pre-empting are? Well, you could but you are unlikely to get an answer that will help you much. Just passing a little time. It’s still your lead?

and another...

Are you going to break a rule (shall we say a “guide-line”?)? Almost time to reveal all. Before we do, you could ask South a question. “Do you play some form of Blackwood?”. More time-wasting! Of course, they do.

So, what do you know about the North hand? They either have control, first round control of all 4 suits and probably the Spade-smallK too, or they have taken a huge unnecessary gamble. Yes, the Heart-smallA is still in your hand! Getting the picture about North’s hearts and what you should lead? Not the Heart-smallA (waste of time) or even the good, safe, solid Club-smallQ. It may be “solid” but you will still be working out the score for a making grand-slam if you chose it! +50 is a much nicer score to be writing down.

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

 

The recommended lead against a sensibly bid grand-slam (and we assume that the bidding is sensible) is a trump (OK, not 7NT!). It is the only lead to beat this contract. On any other lead, South will win, play two top clubs, discarding a diamond, cash Diamond-smallA and take the next 8 tricks by cross-ruffing (South’s Spade-smallQJ being left for tricks 12 and 13).

A trump lead leaves South a trick short. They can discard their diamond and ruff three hearts but clubs have to be set up for the discard of the 4th heart (since the Diamond-smallK is well-protected)…and to do that will require the diamond finesse. Therefore, after the trump lead, declarer must set up clubs for two discards (including the king) but must take the diamond finesse.

Had West followed the rule (Club-smallQ was safe but wrong), they would have written down +50. South broke a rule or two with their 3Spade-small opening (“t’was the vulnerability which made me do it!”) and showed that their “crimes” did pay.

Not with you on lead, I hope.

Compliments of the season to you all. These weekly articles will continue throughout the holiday period. Bridge is one of those good things that never stops. Hopefully, (depending on your seat at the table) successful leads, too!

Richard Solomon

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