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Daily Bridge in New Zealand

     Not today. Today’s a good news day!

No Demons but still down…for less experienced players and others.

The following deal was given to me because all bar one who played the board in the 4Heart-small game (and at the particular club, that was 12 declarers) failed to make their contract. Yet, there were no bad breaks and no more than three top losers. Let’s take a look.

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

 

North’s 4Heart-smallwas a fast arrival sign off. South did just that. West led Club-smallQ. Plan the play. There are no bad breaks including a 3-2 trumps break.

3Diamond-small confirmed not just a strong game-going hand opposite the 1Spade-small response but also that South’s opening suit was at least five-carded even if you do not play 5-card major suit openings. North had no ambitions beyond game and thus jumped straight there. West led the unbid suit, almost certainly from a sequence headed by the queen.

On some days, we would suggest that it is good technique for South to duck the opening lead and then win the club continuation, just in case the suit broke 5-2 thus making it harder for the opponents to cash their two club tricks. That does apply here though is not central to the reason why this particular game contract failed so often.

South must realise that they are very likely to have two club losers along with the Diamond-smallA and therefore must not lose a second diamond trick. If the club break was 5-2 and East held and took the first round of diamonds with the ace, South might be able to discard a club loser on a high diamond. That should be unlikely as it would be poor defence for East to win the first round of diamonds, unless they captured a high honour with it.

That brings us to the point of why so many declarers probably failed. If you play diamonds from the South hand (presumably leading Diamond-smallK) you will need to ruff two small diamonds with dummy’s trumps whereas if East did have Diamond-smallA and was forced to win this trick on “thin air” i.e., without capturing an honour, only one ruff would be needed. Watch: (of course, if West had held Diamond-smallA, two ruffs would still be needed but let’s be optimistic as to where we would like the Diamond-smallA to be).


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

 

So, duck the opening lead (good technique) and win the club continuation. It’s not time yet to touch trumps as there’s ruffing to be done in dummy. Play a diamond towards the KQ. East should duck. Now, cross to dummy with a trump and play a second diamond. If East ducks again, they will never score their ace. So, they take the Diamond-smallA and cash the Club-smallK before trying to cash the Spade-smallK. No joy there as declarer ruffs and then plays their remaining small diamond which they ruff in dummy.

With just high trumps left in their hand, South can play dummy’s last trump and claim 10 tricks. In theory the defence could make it harder for South with East playing Club-smallK under the ace and West playing a fourth round of clubs after the defence took the Diamond-smallA. However, South merely ruffs in dummy and discards their last diamond from hand and makes their contract.

Even an initial trump lead does not threaten the contract (it would have done had West held Diamond-smallA) as South uses their two entries to dummy (a trump and Club-smallA) in reverse order from the play above and plays as above.

Declarer’s success will come from good planning and then timing. When you have losing cards in your hand which cannot be disposed of in any other way but can be ruffed, drawing trumps initially is a bad idea. One round of trumps was necessary to be played to provide a key second entry to dummy to take advantage of East holding the Diamond-smallA. (The contract could still be made if West had held Diamond-smallA and after a club lead had won their ace on the first round of diamonds. Try out the play.)

lucky break 2.jpg

That was not the case on this day. The cards could not have been more friendly for South..and yet most seemed to have got their timing or their objective wrong.

An annoying break

Your breaks cannot always be lucky. The following one was not:

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

 

After a standard 2NT opening by your partner and a response showing no major, you take a shot at slam in your long minor. South leads the Diamond-small9 and it looks a fairly simple job of drawing trumps, discarding a couple of hearts and claiming. However, when you play Club-smallA and a second club to your queen, South discards a heart!

Not so easy now! Over to you.

Richard Solomon

 

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