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How unlucky?

There are some bad times when defending at bridge. One from which we will all suffer is when we lead the ace of the suit we have bid and had supported by our partner against, say, a 5-level suit contract. Down in the dummy comes K76 of the suit….and we fear the worst. On an average poor day, declarer follows to the suit. On a real bad day, they ruff and you lose one of your defensive tricks as declarer discards on the king.

Could we avoid that happening? Sometimes, perhaps.

Today’s happening is a “near cousin” of that event.  

The heart/spade battle continued all the way to the 5-level with spades “winning” as so often is the case. Yet, it was an opponent who bid 5Spade-small and you doubled that contract. So, you want to get all the tricks you can. It’s your lead.

Bridge in NZ.pngnz map.jpg

 

 
 
North Deals
None Vul
   
A 6 2
K J 9 8 2
A Q 8 7 5
 
N
W   E
S
   
West North East South
  Pass Pass 1 
2  3  4  4 
5  Pass Pass 5 
Dbl All pass    

 

Your 2Spade-small was Michael’s, hearts and a minor…and the bids kept coming!

So, what’s your choice?

Well, we led a low heart. It did not really matter which one (Heart-small9 might have been more deceptive) but we led our lowest. The heart lay-out was certainly not to our liking with Heart-smallA765 appearing on dummy and declarer ducking your lead to win with what was obviously their singleton queen. A really bad start.

Next came a low spade towards dummy….and you can take little comfort from the fact that it did not matter whether you won your ace or not. In fact, you played low. These were the four hands:

North Deals
None Vul
Q 9 8 7
A 7 6 5
4 2
10 9 4
A 6 2
K J 9 8 2
A Q 8 7 5
 
N
W   E
S
 
3
10 4 3
10 9 6 3
A K Q 6 5
 
K J 10 5 4
Q
K J
J 8 7 3 2
West North East South
  Pass Pass 1 
2  3  4  4 
5  Pass Pass 5 
Dbl All pass    

 

Spade-small7 won in dummy to be followed by a diamond discard on the Heart-smallA. Next came Club-small10 won by East’s queen and a diamond to the king and your ace. Now Spade-smallA and your last spade, won in dummy. However, South now only lost Spade-smallA, one diamond and the top 3 clubs. That was + 500 and luckily for your side, that was just better than those playing in hearts who could take advantage of the favourable position in both red suits to make 12 tricks (+ 480). Imagine if your side had been vulnerable. Then, the “unlucky” trick 1 would have been really costly.

It did not have to be so. With first round control of all side-suits, and a partner with some values, a trump lead may well benefit the defence. In such a situation, a low trump rather than Spade-smallA is better in that your partner would not appreciate throwing their singleton king under your ace! Also, assuming you will soon regain the lead in one suit, you can then draw two more rounds of trumps.

So, lead Spade-small2 with dummy winning the first trick. Declarer will need to do something with the clubs. So, Club-smallT will be won by East’s CQ and can be followed by a diamond switch. Take your two tricks and then play Spade-smallA and a third spade. Another club, Club-smallK and a heart switch. Heart-smallQ falls under your king with declarer winning in dummy playing a third small club. As it happens, South did not need to ruff any clubs but they might have done.

Here, the defence took two diamond tricks or 6 tricks in all, +800 beating all those in game East-West had East-West been vulnerable.

The moral is that it would be unusual, though not impossible, for your side to lose top tricks in your suit if you led a trump against such a contract. Had North not held Club-smallT, then South would need to ruff two clubs in dummy and trump leads would haver limited that to just one ruff.

Certainly, the heart lead was unlucky but was perhaps the wrong suit to lead in any case.

deserved bad luck.jpg

Bad luck deserved all round!

The 5-Level belongs to?

The deal also illustrates the danger of over-bidding. South had already bid 4Spade-small and North did not seem to want to bid any more. We know “the 5 level should belong to the opposition” and South really ought to have respected that with no great reason to bid on, especially with neither side vulnerable.

A lesson, perhaps, for both pairs at the table.

Bets on for Jan’s Day

North Deals
N-S Vul
A 8
A J 6 5
J 8 6
A Q J 8
   
N
W   E
S
   
 
K Q J 9 4
10
A Q 10 7
K 7 6
6  by South

 

South was declarer in 6Spade-small after an uninterrupted auction. West led Heart-smallK, East following suit. Declarer won to take the (losing) diamond finesse. Back came a second diamond. Declarer won in dummy to play two top spades. On the first spade, West followed with Spade-small5 but discarded a heart on the second round. That left East with Spade-smallT76 after following twice.

Which side would be smiling at the end of the deal?

Richard Solomon

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