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Daily Bridge in New Zealand

Third Player Plays….Right!

So, partner leads a fourth highest, fifth highest, who knows how many highest. Actually, you probably know the answer to that question, or nearly. They led opener’s suit and opener had promised at least three cards in the suit, while you and dummy had three each. Take a look…..

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

 

South’s 1Club-small opening promised at least three clubs. North by-passed their diamond suit and on finding no spade support bid straight to 3NT.  The 1NT rebid showed 12-14. West led Club-small6 with declarer playing low from dummy. It’s your turn to plan and play.

Hopefully, that was the order of those two “p”s above if you were in the East seat. Our East remembered the basic rule of third player playing high and without seemingly much thought won their ace to return a second club. Declarer won in hand with the Club-smallK and led a low heart towards the jack. West completed a rather miserable defence by rising with the Heart-smallK to play a third round of clubs. Take a look.

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

 

Club-smallQ won in dummy. Declarer cashed Heart-smallJ and crossed to hand with a spade to the king to cash two more high hearts and then take a successful spade finesse. Four spades, three hearts, two clubs and the Diamond-smallA…an over instead of an under-trick.

At least it was one error each so that both partners were equally to blame!

The "Rule of 11"

There was a chance that the initial lead was away from Club-small KQ76 in which case it would not matter which club East played,Club-small10 or Club-smallA. Using the “Rule of 11” (take the card led from 11 and the answer gives you the number of clubs higher than the card led in the other three hands), there are 5 clubs higher than the 6 in North, South and the East hand. East can see four of them and the missing one could be Club-small9.

However, not necessarily. If South holds Club-smallK as the missing card, then playing the ace costs the defence a trick, as here. East should insert Club-small10, knowing that if the lead was “fourth highest”, then South need only make one club trick as we will see.

It is true that West may find it hard to make the 13th club but as East, you can see compensating tricks available in diamonds.

Withhold that Heart-smallK

Yes, West certainly should. While it was likely that South held Heart-smallAQ, if they did not, then the heart suit could yield maybe three even four tricks for the defence, but only by ducking. Since West holds Heart-small10, declarer cannot score more than two heart tricks if West ducks. By taking Heart-smallK, they presented South with three. There was no great rush to play a third round of clubs. West should stay low.

What should have happened

That Club-small10 at trick 1 would lose to Club-smallK. With many problems, declarer may well play a heart to the jack which scores, and then a second heart to Heart-small9, which loses to West’s Heart-small10. Now comes the Club-smallJ with South doing best by ducking. Nice defence now would be Diamond-small10 switch but even without that (the spade and diamond positions may not be clear to West at that point), a third round of clubs would leave East a little awkwardly on lead.

However, they can exit with a third heart. South, who knows where Heart-smallK is, takes their ace and discards a diamond from dummy. At that point, declarer has just taken one club and two heart tricks. A successful spade finesse will give four tricks to South but there would only be the Diamond-smallA to come after that… one down with breaks that did not favour the declarer.

Had East switched the Diamond-smallK, the defence might have prevailed because West held Diamond-small10 though two heart tricks would be all South then needed and could get those before the defence could get five tricks. Using the Rule of 11, or really just good logic (and, of course, planning before playing!) would have produced a much happier result for the defence.

smart decision.jpg

"Third player plays....Right card!

What now?

     
East Deals
N-S Vul
 
N
W   E
S
 
10 9 6
A K 10 6 2
Q 9 2
J 3
West North East South
    Pass 1 
4  4  ?  

 Sometimes you have no fit and sometimes you do. West's 4Heart-small suggests the latter! What should you do? You are playing Pairs?

Richard Solomon

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