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Daily Bridge in New Zealand

No Half Measures: All or Nothing.

Some declarers in the recent National Open Teams in Auckland failed in a game contract to a rather unkind ruff but should never have been in that position because they either drew one trump too many or one trump too few! Let’s have a look:

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

 

You have reached game where you seem to have just two losers, maybe three on some days. You certainly do not want to find any more than that. West leads Club-small7 which goes to your ace.

You play a diamond to the king and East’s ace. East cashes Heart-smallA and then plays a trump with all following. However, on the second round of trumps, West discards a diamond. Plan the play.

Well, it looked very straightforward after that defence. Had trumps broken 3-2, you would have been onto the next board in a milli-second. Draw trumps and cash your minor suit winners, making an overtrick. Yet, you do not want play hands as easy as that, do you? Well, maybe some of the time you do!

Our South decided to play a third round of trumps and these cards remained:

 
Q J 8 3
K Q J
K Q
10 9 6 5
6
 
N
W   E
S
 
10
6 5 2
8 4 3
 
J 9
J 9 8
7
2

 

South started on dummy’s clubs and discarded two hearts on high clubs and was soon to discard their last heart on the run of the diamonds….but East did not allow that to happen by ruffing Diamond-smallQ. Poor South had to follow suit and then had to lose a heart as well to be one down.

That did not have to be

Yes, the 5-1 diamond break was unfortunate though since East was known to hold 4 cards in each black suit and presumably some length in hearts, shortage in diamonds should not have been that much of a surprise.

These were the four hands:

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

 No half measures: all or none drawn

However, there were two much better ways of playing the board once the bad trump break had been exposed.

10 tricks were certain even after playing the third round of trumps as long as South did something which was slightly unusual. They should have ruffed their own high club (it did not matter which) and then drawn East’s last trump before returning to dummy with a diamond. There would be a diamond loser at the end but 10 tricks were certain.

So, had you drawn a third round of trumps, you had to draw a fourth round as well. Yet, South could have left East with two trumps and the all-important Spade-smallQ on the table and played off their three club winners discarding two hearts from hand.

Then cash Diamond-smallQ and think an unkind word as East ruffed but 10 tricks were still assured as these cards remained:

 
Q
J 8 3
K
10 9 6
 
N
W   E
S
 
10
6 5 2
 
J 9 7
J

 

East could either play a heart which could be ruffed in dummy or a trump which allowed the last heart to be discarded in comfort on Diamond-smallJ.

Half way......

half way.jpg   is   no way.gif 

So, at the point of discovering the 4-1 trump break, South would have survived had they drawn all the outstanding trumps as quickly as possible or else left East for a while with two trumps. Either way worked but not the in-between “half measures”. Roughly a quarter of the field failed in 4Spade-small, rather unnecessarily. 

Your hand or my hand, partner?

 
 
7
A Q J 9 6 4 2
8 6 2
J 2
West North East South
      2 
3  ?    

 

2Heart-small is a weak 2 in hearts…. and that is correct, it is your partner who opened the bidding. 3Heart-small is Michaels style, spades and a minor…and your bid is?

Richard Solomon

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