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Daily Bridge in New Zealand

For Less Experienced Players. (it's Thursday)     Spot the Danger.

If only our South had. Then, they would have recorded a plus score in their game contract. No overtricks, as you cannot always make them, especially when the defence hit on the right suit to lead. However, even 9 tricks proved too hard. Let’s see why.

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

 

2NT showed a balanced 18-19 enabling North to raise comfortably to game. West led Diamond-smallJ and despite a slightly dangerous opening lead, there seemed plenty of potential for tricks.

South ducked the opening lead with West producing Diamond-small10 next, East Diamond-smallQ. Plan the play.

It was such a pity as South had already taken a wise precaution. When the Diamond-smallJ was led, South did well to duck the opening lead although in doing so, it was unlikely the diamond suit threatened the contract unless one defender started with five diamonds and the Club-smallA. In that case, South was helpless as they had to play on the club suit in order to come to 9 tricks.

However, ducking the opening lead could earn South an overtrick if diamonds broke 4-2 and the player with the four-card suit did not hold the Club-smallA. Ducking the opening lead was unlikely to cost.

However, that was not the situation here. The defender with the Club-smallA did hold four diamonds. Therefore, there was to be no overtrick. Yet, the diamond suit was not the direct cause of South’s downfall.

Danger ignored

South won the diamond continuation and laid down Club-smallK. East won with the Club-smallA and rather to South’s surprise, it was East who cashed two more winning diamonds before exiting, passively, another club…except it was not such a passive return, as on the third round of clubs, East discarded a spade. A second club trick had to be lost to West (declarer could only count 2 spades, 3 hearts, 1 diamond and 2 top club tricks)…and as four tricks had already been lost, the contract was down one.

Unlucky? No way!

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

 

Had either defender held Club-small ATxx, then it would certainly have been South’s unlucky day. Had it been West who held Club-smallA6, and a four- card diamond suit, the same bad luck would apply. However, there was no reason to fail when East had Club-smallAx and just three cashing diamond tricks, as above.

We should have learnt at an early stage in our bridge education that sometimes, you can win more tricks in a suit by leading towards one’s honours than actually leading the honours themselves. With plenty of safe major suit entries to the dummy, South should have crossed to the dummy and lead a club. When, say Club-smallK, scores, return to the dummy and lead a second club. This time, the ace wins but South can play low…and after East takes their two diamond tricks, can “run the club suit” (three more winners) to make 9 tricks.

Only just over one third of the time (36%) when you are missing 6 cards in a suit, does the suit break 3-3 in the opponents’ hands. A 4-2 break occurs much more frequently, 48%. So, if you can improve your chances by another 6% (doubleton ace in the East hand), you would want to do so. There is also the very minute chance that East holds singleton Club-smallA as well.

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Increasing your chances brings success!

Thus, South’s play was thoughtless to the extent they could have improved their chances of success by simply playing clubs twice from the dummy hand. South either did not spot the danger or if they did, did not take their best way to avoid it.

The Right Feeling

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

 

If the opposition are going to disrupt your side’s constructive bidding, then it’s a good idea to have decent length in the spade suit. That was certainly the case here when East’s 2NT showed a reasonable hand (10+hcp) with at least five hearts and at least five diamonds.

South may or may not have had enough strength to bid 3Spade-small but they did. North may or may not have had enough strength to bid 4Spade-small but they did!

All South had to do was to make 10 tricks, or avoid 4 losers! West led Diamond-small10. Plan the play. East holds Diamond-smallK and trumps break as favourably as they can.

Richard Solomon

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