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Daily Bridge in New Zealand

They Don’t Always Get What They Want!

You bid clubs and yet your partner led a spade and the sight of dummy’s spade suit and your own length in that suit suggest they will have very few spades. You are about to win the lead very quickly and have an important decision to make.

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

 

Your partner leads Spade-small8. Declarer plays low from dummy as do you. Spade-smallQ takes the first trick. Then comes Heart-small4 from South, Heart-small3 from West and Heart-smallK from dummy. You win..and…?

There are three wrong suits to play at this point and just one right one. So, you had better be on the ball. If your partner had the Diamond-smallA, then it would be a good idea to have played your king at this point. Yet, they could not even speak over 1Club-small. So, the chances of such a switch being worthwhile, while not zero, are pretty low.

There’s the option of playing back a spade. There are two things wrong with this. The first is you do not know where the Spade-small8 is. If it is with your partner, then you have rather blown the spade suit. Yet, even if partner does have a singleton spade, you know they only have two hearts, at most. Therefore, your side would have three trump tricks…and? You will have to follow to two rounds of spades while the declarer discards diamond losers. No, not a good plan even if partner does score their trump, which they might not have!

There’s the option of playing Heart-smallQ and a third heart, often a good idea to stop ruffing. Yet, here, with such an ominous looking spade suit in dummy, and declarer likely to have both minor aces (remember that 2Heart-small jump), all the defence might (and would) be left with would be a diamond at trick 13…and even that assumes West has Diamond-smallJ.

So, our East decided, wisely, to return Club-smallQ. This was the lay-out.

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

 

South won the Club-smallA and then made the second of two plays that cost them their contract. We will reflect on the first shortly. They ruffed a club to play a second trump from dummy in case Heart-small10 was with East. East rose with Heart-smallQ and made declarer ruff once more in dummy. Cutting themselves off from the spade suit proved fatal for South.

Dummy had no trumps left and the spades were not set up. All declarer could do was discard a minor card on the Spade-smallK, ruff a spade to hand, draw trump and concede two minor losers at tricks 12 and 13.

No ruff for West. Indeed, a winning line for South would have been to play on spades after winning the Club-smallA. West could ruff but as stated above, there was unlikely to be a 4th trick for the defence. If they did not ruff, spades could be set up for diamond discards. Declarer would have been better playing Heart-smallJ from hand than ruffing a club, but playing on spades was best of all.

However, playing a heart to the king early on seemed a strange line, as East was a strong favourite to hold both missing high heart honours. Leading Heart-small9 at trick 2 and playing low from dummy seems a better shot. Even if that lost to Heart-small10, the contract would be very much still alive.

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Yet, to say West did not get what they wanted, the ruff, is not entirely true. After all, they just wanted to defeat the contract!

A lead for Jan’s Day.

It’s your choice of leads holding:

North Deals
N-S Vul
   
9 6 3
J 5 4 3
K 9 2
J 9 3
 
N
W   E
S
   
6  by South

 

The auction was unnatural. North opened a Precision 1Club-small and you know that South’s shape is 3415, i.e. 5 clubs. South has three controls (ace 2, king 1) and they appear to be all in clubs. South gave a positive response (8+ hcp) to the opening bid. You know nothing more about the North hand… and your choice is?

Richard Solomon

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