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Daily Bridge in New Zealand

It’s Jan’s Day…and there’s a bad trump break!

That is not a time to give up! That is a time to say “I am going to give it a good shot and see if I can make this contract, whether a part-score, game or even a slam." Talking of which…

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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
West North East South
  1 NT Pass 3 
Pass 3 NT Pass 4 
Pass 4  Pass 4 NT
Pass 5  Pass 6 
All pass      
6  by South

 

South was declarer in 6Spade-smallafter 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? Trumps broke 5-1!

jan cormack 2021  1.jpg
Jan Cormack

The average player tends to give in too easily when confronted with particularly bad trump breaks. In many instances, if you do not panic but settle down and revise your line of play, success may come your way as it did to the declarer in the following 6Spade-small contract.

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

 

1NT showed 16-18 with 5Club-small 0 or 3 aces. 6Spade-small seemed reasonable when dummy appeared. On seeing the dummy after Heart-smallK lead, South mused that 7Spade-small was likely to be a 50% shot depending on which defender held Diamond-smallK.

South won Heart-smallK in dummy and immediately ran Diamond-smallJ, losing to West’s Diamond-smallK. After some thought, West exited with a further diamond. South’s complacency was short-lived when after two rounds of trumps, he received news of the bad trump break. It was the defence’s turn to feel smug.

However, that feeling was also short-lived because South cashed one further high trump and played off, successfully, another round of diamonds and three rounds of clubs, ending in dummy. With three cards left and South needing all three tricks, this was the end position:

 
J 6
J
Q 8 7
 
N
W   E
S
 
10 7
9
 
J 9
10

 

Club-smallJ was led from dummy and East had to surrender. If East discarded, so would South. Then, South can beat East’s trump on the next trick. South will score both spades at the end and will thus make their contract.

fat lady sings 2.png

In the post mortem, West apologised for not playing Heart-smallQ at trick three to reduce South’s trumps and promote a trump trick for East. However, the slam can still be made, double dummy, even if that happens. After ruffing, South can play Spade-smallK and then two rounds of diamonds and three rounds of clubs to finish in the South hand and will reach this end-position:

 
A
J 6
J
8 7 4 2
 
N
W   E
S
 
10 7 6 3
 
Q J 9
10

 

South plays Diamond-smallT ruffed by dummy’s ace and any card off dummy will see East’s trump trick disappear into thin air!  Never give up…or feel too complacent!”

While that last line will see the contract make when spades are 5-1, it would seem to fail on a more normal 4-2 spade break when either diamonds or clubs do not break 3-3. Nevertheless, it shows what can be achieved.

 

 

Which way to go?  For less experienced players and others.

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

 

The bidding was more “practical Pairs” bridge than scientifically accurate! North bid their four-card major in preference to their longer uninspiring looking club suit while South’s rebid showed 12-14 but certainly denied six diamonds! However, the final contract was very reasonable, where you want to be, definitely if they did not lead a spade…. but West did, Spade-small3. So, how are you going to plan the play? Oh, ducking at trick 1 is not to be recommended!

Richard Solomon

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