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Daily Bridge in New Zealand

Priority of problems.

There are times when the safest way to play a suit has to take a back-seat as there is a more pressing issue to consider. That would be the case with today’s deal.

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South Deals
E-W Vul

J 3

K J 10 7 4

8 2

J 8 5 2

   

N

W

 

E

S

   
 

A 4

A Q 5 3 2

K 9

A Q 6 3

 

West

North

East

South

 

 

 

1 

Pass

2 

Pass

4 

All pass

 

 

 

West leads Spade-smallK. What is your line? Trumps break 2-1.

There is no chance in this deal for any discarding as the two hands above have identical shape. We have a certain spade loser, one or two in diamonds depending on where the ace is and unless East has specifically Club-smallK doubleton, a loser in clubs. That’s 3 or 4 losers depending on where the Diamond-smallA is.

One issue is that on a really bad day, the club suit could provide two losers. That is why the safest way to play the suit for one loser is to lay down the ace, just in case West were to hold singleton king. However, there is a more pressing problem today, in diamonds.

Also, winning the opening lead, drawing trumps and exiting a spade may appeal on some days, though is not generally going to be successful as West can exit with a club (unless they held Club-smallK doubleton themselves). The spade exit needs to wait.

So, it’s back to the mundane, that of winning Spade-smallA, drawing trumps and then playing low to the Club-smallQ. If the finesse loses, you will rely on a well-placed Diamond-smallA or misdefence (West cashing Diamond-smallA). On this day, the club finesse worked. South could then hope the Club-smallK would fall doubleton, but it did not as both defenders followed with low clubs. However, the contract was then secure. Now was the time to exit with your spade. West must win the trick and has an unpleasant choice of options:

 

J 10 7

8 2

J 8

10 9

A 7 6 5 3

 

N

W

 

E

S

 

7 6

Q J 10 4

K

 

Q 5 3

K 9

6 3

South knew that, too. West can either give declarer a ruff and discard or play Diamond-smallA. Either way, even though Diamond-smallA was off-side and there was a certain club loser, South only lost three tricks. The spade trick had to be lost before South lost a club trick to East but after two rounds of clubs had been played.

The four hands were:

South Deals
E-W Vul

J 3

K J 10 7 4

8 2

J 8 5 2

K Q 10 9

9 6

A 7 6 5 3

9 4

 

N

W

 

E

S

 

8 7 6 5 2

8

Q J 10 4

K 10 7

 

A 4

A Q 5 3 2

K 9

A Q 6 3

 

West

North

East

South

 

 

 

1 

Pass

2 

Pass

4 

All pass

 

 

 

 

The safest line in clubs had to be overlooked in order to avoid the loss of two diamond tricks: diamonds were a higher priority.

Richard Solomon

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