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Play and Defend Better: for improving players

No Mirror Needed. 

So, how many New Year’s Bridge resolutions did you make? No more overbidding. No more underbidding. You will probably achieve both of those if you stop playing the game! Otherwise, it’s not what you do but when you do it! Certainly, do not over or under-bid when your partner does exactly the same. Playing a grand in part-score is no more fun than playing a part-score in grand!

Enough! We are playing and defending hands, not misbidding! There’s also a few resolutions most of us could make in these areas, too. So, let’s begin the year with a play problem..most of the time one is declarer, there is a play problem! 12 high card points opposite 12. That sounds like a touch of overbidding as we are in 4Spade-small. Whatever happened to the requirement for 25 minimum? A touch of overbidding? Not at all. A good fit in a side-suit, a side-suit singleton…what more does one need to bid game?

It’s just we could well have 4 losers. What’s new! Come on. It’s time to do one’s best:

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

 

West leads Heart-smallK and you can hardly complain about dummy. Partner could have been a lot weaker for that jump. Ducking does not look like achieving much except to suffer a possible heart ruff next time round. You are staring at 2 heart losers, a club and maybe a spade loser.

Which year did you last take a successful finesse? (You do not have to own up here but hopefully the answer ends in “9” or even “0” if you are really keen and have played since New Year.) So, plan the play. You win the Heart-smallA with East contributing the jack. What now?

carrot seeing well.jpg

Can you see well? No need for X-Ray eyes..or even eating carrots! Just good logic.

We hope you have had a look at all four suits before you planned your play. Taking an immediate spade finesse may or may not be successful depending on which finesse you take. The moment you lose a trump to West, you are down. So, playing a spade to the 10 is the worst option you could take.

Playing a spade to the queen does have a greater chance of success as you only now need to have East holding the Spade-smallK and you will be in good shape. Come on, East never has the king when you need them to do so. You can do better.

What about running those diamonds and discarding a heart on the third round…maybe even discarding another on the fourth round if you can? That’s better. All you need is for diamonds to break 3-3 or 4-2 in either hand and you should be on your way to success.

Better…but you can do even better (remember your resolution). Make that ruff hurt the defender if you can. Make them ruff with the Spade-smallK. You will be no worse off than if they ruff with a small spade (unless they ruff the first or second round) and if they have to ruff with the king, you will be better off as one of your hearts disappears at the same time. All you need is the defender with the doubleton diamond to have Kx of trumps. Have you seen what you need do? Yes, play a trump to the ace at trick 2. Then, start on the diamond suit. The best way to avoid a losing finesse is not to take one!

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

 

Well, that was interesting with the king falling under the ace. It’s time to start on that diamond suit. West discards on the third round..but so do you. You can now play a fourth diamond and discard your remaining heart on the Diamond-smallJ.

It’s time to tease East. Play a 5th diamond and see if East wants to ruff. They probably will just in case you, South, had a 5th heart! You over-ruff, draw trump and concede a club trick. You still have 2 trumps in dummy to take care of club losers. You make 2 over-tricks! “Come on, partner, bid them up! Try for slam.” Of course, you do not want to bid that high but playing Pairs, those overtricks are very useful.
West would not have been very happy in not making their Spade-smallK. You felled it by taking the best possible chance of making your contract. “No finesse”. You have heard that before. Finesse when there is no better way. There was this time.

So, bid them up and bid them down (when it’s right and when partner is not doing the same). Play them well, too. Your results could be awesome!
Richard Solomon 
(in case you are unaware, I refrain from eating carrots..and it has not done me too much harm at the bridge table in doing so!)

 

 

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