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Daily Bridge in New Zealand

                     Leave the lady alone.

It could come down to a finesse.. and if the finesse works, you will be recording a plus score in your 28 hcp. game. With that number of high cards between your two hands, a reasonable trump suit and no bad breaks, you would like to be able to record a plus score.

Yet, when that finesse fails, which happens half the time …and seems to happen most of the time, your contract would seem to be doomed.

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

 

You have given yourself a bit of a problem. You could have offered 3NT as a place to play… and partner may well have said “yes”. Too bad. You need 10 tricks on the lead of Spade-small8 to the ace and Spade-small3 return with West contributing Spade-small9 on the second round. You lay down Heart-smallAK and both opponents follow… and now?

Our declarer played their two club honours in dummy on which, somewhat strangely, East contributed Club-small9 and Club-smallJ. Next came a spade to the queen and that diamond finesse (a diamond to the Diamond-smallQ) which (you have guessed, I am sure,) failed!

East cashed the outstanding defensive trump (Heart-smallQ) and exited a low diamond to West’s jack and dummy’s ace. South’s Diamond-small8 was still to be lost as was, therefore, the contract (two diamonds, Spade-smallA and a trump). What a shame, not that South had not offered 3NT as an alternative (there seemed to be 9 tricks without having to worry at all about the diamond suit), but that they had failed to make 10 tricks in the heart game. Look…

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

 

The contract was much easier to make than it seemed. Indeed, when West played low to the first round of diamonds, the only way the contract could fail was if declarer inserted Diamond-smallQ. East’s club play was interesting in that without the Club-small10, there was no way East would play those two high clubs unless they had to. They did not know where the Club-small10 was when the two high clubs were played. East had to have just two clubs.

If South had inserted Diamond-small9 from dummy, losing to Diamond-small10, East was, to put it politely, “without resource”. They could cash the Heart-smallQ but then had to give up two diamond tricks or play a spade and give a ruff and discard to declarer. Nicely played by South had that happened and it would not have helped West to put in the Diamond-smallJ as now declarer plays Diamond-smallQ and loses the trick to East who is still in that unfortunate “no win” position. (The dealer did not give dummy Diamond-small9 for no good reason other than to help you!)

Yet, South did not have to play diamonds at all. Before touching the suit, they could play the Club-smallA discarding a small diamond from dummy. East would not be that keen to ruff as they had only the last spade and diamonds left. So, they would discard but very soon, they would be on lead as South exited with a trump…and East would be in the same dilemma.

South would not have known who held the Heart-smallQ. If it was West, then they would be forced to lead a diamond or give a ruff and discard by playing clubs. So, South could not be worse off than playing diamonds because the defence would have to play the suit themselves, probably to declarer’s advantage if it was West, and certainly if it was East.

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Thus, the only way not to make 10 tricks was to insert the Diamond-smallQ the first time the suit was played when West played low. East’s “show up” doubleton club made it easier though as long as the third round of clubs was played before diamonds were touched, the club distribution was irrelevant. South could lose a diamond and still make their contract, but not by losing two diamond tricks.

Yet, diamonds did not have to be played by South at all.

Playing Pairs, you would rather be in 4Heart-small making 10 tricks than 3NT making 9. Just another imp in playing Teams…a minus score would be a disaster in either version of the game. “No finesse…or “leave the lady alone.”  

When you double a contract, you know what to lead.

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

 Well, you do, don't you?! We all know what your partner has got. They opened a Multi 2Diamond-small and from their subsequent silence, they have 6 spades. There must be a good chance you will get quite rich from doubling 4Heart-small. At the very least, the contract should be one down. So, you are feeling quite good about life. Oh, what was the lead?

Richard Solomon

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