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Daily Bridge in New Zealand

  Safety First.

Were this not the season of goodwill (why cannot all seasons be such?), then a level of criticism could be levelled at our declarer today who may have felt a little deflated at failing in their contract.

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

 

West leads Club-small9. What is your plan to make your contract, even maybe an overtrick as the game is Pairs?

Maybe it was the smell of that overtrick or just perhaps being unaware of the danger that existed but our declarer took a very quick path to defeat. They took the wise step of winning the Club-smallA at trick 1 (in case West held a singleton club) but then took an immediate trump finesse, which lost. West found a second lower club to East’s king and a third round of clubs was ruffed by West. Look:

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

 

That was three tricks to the defence with the Diamond-smallA still to come. There was no overtrick.

Was South unlucky? Not really. A little more thought and care would have seen the contract home. While the Club-small9 did not have to be from a shortage (maybe, Club-smallK987?), the spade overcall suggested it might. South thought so by taking their ace at trick 1.

That would mean West had overcalled without Club-smallK and with not many high cards. Spade-smallK, Diamond-smallA. Is that enough for a vulnerable overcall? A few may say “yes” but a poorish suit normally has more values when vulnerable. There was no guarantee but there was a reasonable chance West held the Heart-smallQ too.

No time to finesse

Indeed, South could lose one heart and one club trick along with Diamond-smallA and still make their contract. The best way to reduce chances of suffering a club ruff would be to play trumps from the top. Once the queen was the only trump outstanding, South could turn their attention to removing the Diamond-smallA and to discard their second spade on the run of the diamonds.

Indeed, do not presume West holds the Spade-smallK. Certainly, they should but if by magic it turned up in East’s hand as South finessed, the declarer could give West a lesson about vulnerable overcalls but it would not change the result!

Note also that the same logic applies if you are in 3NT on the lead of a spade. You have no time to take the heart, let alone the club finesse. You have to play on diamonds and take just 4 diamond, 2 spade, 2 heart and 1 club trick. Maybe no overtricks but otherwise, you risk a minus score.

No overcall: safety first

At another table, West did not overcall giving South a greater problem in 4Heart-small as there was no clue as to who held Spade-smallK. In this case, after the same club lead, there was an even greater compelling reason to play hearts from the top. Even if East were eventually to win the Heart-smallQ holding originally Qxx, they could not threaten South with a low spade.

 

The message in your cracker says:

christmas cracker red.png

“Safety first: before overtricks.”

I think, or know, that that message has been one mentioned many times in these daily articles since they started some 9 months ago. I hope you have enjoyed them and they will continue next Tuesday after the Christmas break. There is not much of a break from bridge at this time of year any more.

Our Panel of 9

I would like to thank “the panel of 9” who answer always very promptly and wisely to the bidding problems I pose them. Such is the fascination of bridge that they will often come up with different answers. There is often no one right answer.

Unlike in the Master Solvers feature which appeared in New Zealand Bridge Magazine for many years, we then produce the real hand which may prove or not the argument they produced. I am sure in some cases they will say the real distribution was freakish, as perhaps was yesterday’s example of 4Heart-small making. Thanks, anyway, to the Panel. I am sure we will continue to hear from them.

Bored over Christmas?

Well, we just have to leave you with a bidding problem.

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

 

Not too much bidding to digest there. You are playing Pairs and 1Spade-small promises at least a 5- card suit.

Compliments of the season to you all.

Richard Solomon

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