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Daily Bridge in New Zealand

Passing Messages.

That’s what defenders do with each other, in a legal way, of course. It can be important when you have very little in the way of high-card points, too. Let’s see why.

Bridge in NZ.pngnz map.jpg

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

 

You are silent during the auction and look like you will not have too much to do during the defence. 1Club-smallwas 4+ with 2NT showing 12-14 balanced. Your partner leads Spade-small5 (2nd and 4th leads) and dummy’s Spade-smallK takes the first trick with declarer playing Spade-small2.

Next comes a club to the king and your partner’s ace with your partner switching to Heart-small10. Declarer plays Heart-smallA from dummy.

Which cards have you played to the first three tricks?

Needless to say that at least one of the cards you played to the first three tricks was critical to the defence and had you not got the message across to your partner allowed an unmakeable contract to slither home. Let’s take a look at all four hands:

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

 

South is due three spade tricks, three heart tricks and four club tricks, all fine if they can take them but in doing so, they have to lose the lead to West with both of their black aces. Meanwhile, the defence can easily take three diamond tricks and those two aces.

Yet, without being able to discard, it is up to East to get that message across to their partner…and they need to do so in a hurry!

West should do a piece of point counting when they see dummy. They know that their partner has an honour somewhere (maybe jacks and a queen) because dummy has only 11 hcp and declarer a weak no-trump. Added to the 12 they have, that means even if South has a maximum 14, East will have 3. West is not fighting the battle single-handed.

West could imagine their partner has not many spades. In such a situation, it would be normal for the weak hand in a partnership to give count. So, whether one plays natural or reverse count, East should indicate their doubleton. Indeed, our East did that with Spade-small4.

East also gave count when declarer called for a small club from dummy and played their king. East played Club-small8 indicating an odd number. West could see little point in ducking. So, they won and the message about the spade suit (in addition to their own weak suit) must have got through since they switched to the Heart-small10. Maybe their partner had some honours in that suit.

Declarer won the Heart-smallA and played a low spade to Spade-smallJ and West’s ace. Yet, which heart had East played to the previous round? It was a lowish one, Heart-small3, and whatever East meant by that card, the message did not get through since when in with the Spade-smallA, West continued a second round of hearts…and the relieved declarer could claim an overtrick.

Perhaps East was giving count or perhaps a low card meant “switch to the lower suit, partner” but it seems in either case, the message was the wrong one or did not get through. West had to be looking for tricks away from spades and if they were trying the heart suit, they were going to be very disappointed. That is the message East should have conveyed… Heart-small8 if you play reverse and Heart-small2 if you play natural signals.

West may have felt somewhat uneasy leading away from the Diamond-smallK but significantly, South had shown no interest in dummy’s five-card suit, as you can see, for good cause.   

South had kept Spade-small10 hidden from the defenders but if South had four club tricks and three in hearts, then they only needed two spade tricks to come to 9. It was time for desperate action. West’s best switch is Diamond-smallJ catering for South’s singleton, if that is what they held, being Diamond-small10, or even if South held a small doubleton diamond. If the defence could only take two diamond tricks, then the game would most likely make. So, with the right information from their partner, West should have defeated this game.

The above signals are, of course, only one way of getting the messages across. Hopefully, if yours are different, they would have worked too. 

no signal.jpg

Well, wrong signal!

Who was to blame for this not happening? There was one player giving and the other interpreting the message. Message not received. Over and overtrick!

On Jan’s Day : After the Olympics

After the Olympics and Paralympics, it seems appropriate to reflect on Bridge at the Olympiad. That is where today’s problem comes from. A defensive problem for you:

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

 

3Diamond-small promised an opening hand with 6+ diamonds. Your partner leads Diamond-smallA with declarer contributing Diamond-small7. Next comes Club-small4 with declarer playing Club-smallK from dummy and Club-small9 from their own hand. What now?

Richard Solomon

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