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Daily Bridge in New Zealand

Keeping Options Open.

While there are times when playing or defending a hand that you have to go down one path for success, that is not always the case. Let’s look at the following defensive situation:

Bridge in NZ.pngnz map.jpg

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

 

Your partner has led Spade-small10 against some routine opposition bidding. It’s Teams and you would like to beat the contract. 1Heart-small promised at least 5 hearts with 3Club-small showing 4 hearts and 6-9 hcp. South needed no more encouragement to bid to game. Your partner leads Spade-small10 to the 3, your Spade-smallQ and declarer’s Spade-small2. What to do at trick 2?

This might depend on how one interprets your partner’s opening lead. There is the possibility that it is the top of a doubleton. In that case, you could play a second top spade with the ruff making three tricks and a trick from the minor suits hopefully beating the contract. All possible but not necessarily the lay-out.

The lead could easily be from 109x  or even 109xx. What you do know is that declarer holds the jack and if you are wrong about the doubleton, then you are setting up a trick for declarer maybe not to your advantage.

Your partner is marked with two or three trumps. If one of those is the ace or the king and the lead was a doubleton, then they could win the lead and play a second spade: they know from trick 1 that you hold the Spade-smallA.

At the table, East laid down the SSpade-smallA and saw the jack from declarer and Spade-small4 from West. They anticipated that South was false-carding and tried to give West a ruff….a disaster for the defence as these were the four hands:

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

 

South’s diamond disappeared on the third round of spades with the contract making comfortably for the loss of three major suit tricks.

The problem with cashing Spade-smallA is that it gave East an immediate difficult problem. Let’s say they believed the Spade-smallJ as a true card.  What would South discard on the third round of spades? They had to guess and it was not obvious which switch to make.

There was also no right card for West to play on the second spade to stop a third round of the suit. Spade-small9 may indicate a three card suit which meant there would be no discard…so a third round of spades would be safe. Therefore, Spade-small4 indicated a four..or two- card suit: but which?

The winning and safest defence was to switch after trick 1, with the club being the most obvious switch to make. South wins and before the defence can get some idea of West’s shape, they might try Diamond-smallJ. However, West knows enough already to rise and play a second spade. West, too, knows where the Spade-smallJ is as well as the Spade-smallA, from partner’s Spade-smallQ at trick 1. That’s two spade tricks to go with Diamond-smallA and a certain trump trick: a very stress-free defence.

East could not know from where the defence’s other two tricks were coming. Declarer may hold Club-smallAx and Spade-smallJx making a club switch essential. East put themselves into a corner by cashing the second spade and then did not make the right play at trick 3. Keep those options open. Your first instinct may not be the right one.

A Not-so Fun Hand

Bridge, bidding can be fun and at times is less so. How do you view the developments on this board? You are playing Pairs…and the vulnerability excites you no more than does your hand. Are you going off to make the coffee…and take your hand with you as it will be no use to your partner..or is the auction not yet over?

     
West Deals
Both Vul
 
N
W   E
S
   
 
10 7 5 2
K 8 7 4
J 9 5 4 3
West North East South
1  2  Pass Pass
Dbl Pass Pass ?

 

Richard Solomon

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