All News

Daily Bridge in New Zealand

looking for clues...

Is it a Vacuum?

I hate the phrase “Restricted Choice”. I hate having to guess whether the opponent has chosen to play the queen from QJ doubleton or have played it because that was the only card they have in that suit…or indeed played it just to tease me from QJx. I hate making that decision because, as you may have guessed, I do not always find the right solution!

So, where possible, I look for some help from the lie of other suits to give me a little clue. With nine cards in a suit between my hand and dummy and missing the queen or the queen and the jack, I know that it is normally right to play off ace and then the king when you have no other information, when you are “in a vacuum”. Easy then. I should not worry….but need I be in that “vacuum”?

Bridge in NZ.pngnz map.jpg

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

 

3Diamond-small shows around 10 or 11 hcp and some diamonds. You seem close enough to having 25 hcp between the two hands…and indeed do! So, 3NT it is with West leading Heart-small5 to East’s Heart-small10.

 It seems a good time to take yourHeart-small K and to try to take at least 8 more tricks without losing the lead.

On the first diamond (when played) East plays Diamond-smallQ. Yet, what’s your plan at trick 2?

It would have nice to have ducked a couple of rounds of hearts but, obviously, that was not possible. So, score five diamond tricks, along with your club tricks and a couple of tricks in the majors and you will be counting over-tricks. Otherwise, it looks like a negative score. Play your Diamond-smallA and East “teases” you with the Diamond-smallQ. What next? Are you down to “Restricted Choice” and guessing? You might be but only if you played that Diamond-smallA at trick 2 or at least had ploughed on with diamonds after playing the ace. Why not do a little exploration first? Absolutely nothing can be lost by playing two, three, maybe even four rounds of clubs first. If the suit breaks 3-3 or even 4-2, you may not be much the wiser…but go through the motions anyway. No cost and just maybe a big gain.

Black on black!

West tried the “same colour” discard trick. Both opponents followed to the Club-smallQ but when Club-smallJ was played, West discarded Spade-small6. Interesting. That means that East, who must have a few hearts, usually three or four, has five clubs as well.

Suddenly, you are not in that vacuum any more. You are building a reasonable picture of the defenders’ hands. Try a third club just to see what West discards this time. There was a pause and then the Spade-small9. Although it might set up a club for East, see how West enjoys a fourth club. They do not seem to, at all. Indeed, they throw a low heart!

Get the picture? You are starting to when you lead a small diamond off dummy at trick 6.

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

 

There are no guarantees, of course, but West would not throw a heart out of choice. They would not, should not, throw a diamond. They know you need that suit for tricks.

 Mercifully, you seem to have other reasons, not Restricted Choice, for taking the right view in the diamond suit. If East has Diamond-smallQJ, you could call yourself unlucky now. However, when you played Diamond-small10 on the second round of the suit and West followed with their second small card, you had very good reason to call for the Diamond-small7; no “Beer Card” this board…no chance of playing that card at trick 13!).

see the light.png

Have you seen the light?

No big decision in diamonds. Well, there was but with the information you had in respect of the club suit along with West’s heart discard (as West, would you discard your third spade instead of the heart? If declarer held Spade-smallQ, they might choose the spade finesse instead of relying on diamonds for 9 tricks?). The finesse of the Diamond-smallJ was looking more and more likely to work.

Bet you were glad you played those clubs first! No Restricted Choice guess. Well, it became much less of a guess.

Wait and…

Here’s a different kind of guess for you.

     
South Deals
E-W Vul
 
N
W   E
S
   
 
8 7 5 4 3 2
A J 9 8 3
Q 7
West North East South
      Pass
4  Pass Pass ?

 

It would certainly have been easier had you an opening bid to show a sub-opener with both majors…but you do not.Irrespective, would you have opened anyway?

A weak 2 in spades? To describe your hand as such would be a major distortion. So, you passed and thought you would be able to enter the bidding later. Yet, out came a natural 4Diamond-small on your left. Not so pleasant now. What’s it to be?

Richard Solomon

p.s. It is nice to get some interesting deals from readers which can be used in this daily column. They can be instructive, amusing, demonstrate a good bid or play, a deal seeking guidance. Please keep sending. Where possible, I will use them.

Go Back View All News Items

Our Sponsors
  • NZB Foundation
  • Ryman