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Daily Bridge in New Zealand

Desperate Measures.

The contract is 3NT. You are playing Teams. You want to beat every contract the opposition bid. So, don’t let the sight of dummy put you off. Until declarer takes 9 tricks, there is still hope.

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

 

 Simple bidding and a standard Heart-smallJ lead. Declarer plays Heart-small2 from dummy…. and you? Plan the defence.

They have not taken their nine tricks yet. It is still trick one! What to do? You have a nice A86 in partner’s suit. Win the lead and return the suit. Partner would be very happy if you did that and they happen to have Heart-smallKJ10 to 5 or 6 hearts.

Is that their holding? What would you do as declarer if a heart was led and you held Heart-smallQ2 in dummy opposite three small hearts in your own hand? I think I would put up the queen, just in case the player on lead held the Heart-smallAK. Otherwise, you have no chance.

Where is the king?

So, if that is not the case, then it could be that South does hold the Heart-smallK. So, should you duck, win a subsequent trick with the Heart-smallA and then run lots of heart tricks?

That’s great in theory. However, looking at dummy, at which trick do you think you will win your Club-smallA…or more to the point, which card can you not only not see in dummy but, even with a second or third look,  not see in your own hand either? The Diamond-smallK, of course.

If declarer holds it and you duck trick 1, or win the first trick and continue hearts, at best you will win the lead again at trick 11 after South has taken a heart, 6 diamonds and 2 top spades. The defence could then pick up the scraps.

Alternatively, your partner has the Diamond-smallK and is about to be finessed. Only if declarer has less than two diamonds will your partner score a diamond trick. A singleton or void is possible in declarer's hand. How about having the best of both worlds? If partner wants you to continue hearts, it is unlikely they have the Club-smallK (who mentioned clubs?!). Giving declarer a trick with the Club-smallK is unlikely to be the difference between the contract making or not making.

So, lead the Club-smallA at trick 2 and gauge how keen partner is about your switching back to hearts. If you did that, they would indicate that continuing clubs might be a smart thing to do…

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

 

While those who play natural encouragement would still survive, hopefully, by West playing Club-small6, reverse encouragement works more clearly with West playing Club-small2. So, continue with Club-smallQ and Club-small5 and declarer who, a few seconds earlier, was eyeing a very easy making contract, discovered they had lost the first five tricks!

West would let you off this time for not returning a heart!

This board was played at last weekend’s Auckland Northland Regional Teams held at the Franklin Bridge Club. The event was won by Malcolm Mayer-Jonathan Westoby and Pamela Nisbet -Jan Cormack who won all 6 of their matches.

All 26 tables played in 3NT and at 24 of them, the lead was a heart from the West seat (hand rotated from the actual event) with the other two tables receiving a spade lead from East. Six East players found the club switch including Pamela Nisbet and, to my chagrin, Trevor Robb. It was a case of either +690 or -100. Only one table other than where the spade was led restricted the declarer to 11 tricks.

Deflecting the club switch

It is interesting whether South should cover the Heart-smallJ with the queen, or even put up the queen if a small heart was led. After a small heart lead, it would be harder for East to switch since a desperate declarer might indeed not have the king. The same applies after Heart-smallJ lead….but, as desperate as I looked, it was the Club-smallA which hit the table next.

Ultimately, it was the defence which was desperate and the Club-smallA was an excellent card to play at trick 2.

Good Shape but Few Points

Another hand from the same event, but from the Pairs.

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

 

2Club-small was Standard Precision, 11-15 with just clubs or clubs and a major. 2Heart-small was constructive (i.e. had some value) but was not forcing. 3Club-small showed no tolerance for hearts and usually just long clubs and a minimum.

Would you bid now? If so, what?

 Richard Solomon

 

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