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Week 3 - Playing in No Trumps
Week 3 - 7th April 2022 - Playing in No Trumps

Our new 12-week program of Bridge continued this week with another successful evening. Thanks to everyone who came along and especially to those people who are new to the club.

We had eight tables playing 15 boards in a Mitchell movement. Pre-dealt boards delivered a mixture of random hands and some designed to be played in No Trumps.

At the end of the evening, Sally led a discussion on some of the hands played and gave some tips on playing in No Trumps.

To see the full results and the hands click HERE, click on a pair to access the travellers and the hands. For Sally's commentary on Board 11, see below.

Next week - 14th April - will follow the same structure but with all random hands, see HERE for more information.

Board 11 - Tricky No Trumps!

Everyone played this hand in 3NT by W and a possible auction might be

P 1C P 1H
P 1S P 3C

East's 3C bid gets across their invitational point count, and if partner has 3 card H support, then they can then respond with that, but on this hand 3NT looks the obvious spot.

So, the play... Hopefully 10D lead to the A and a D return, that looks the best defence here. W can try the JD on this, not overly hopeful that it will win the trick, but it may well still be helpful in running the South hand out of the D suit - and thereby creating a safe hand/danger hand scenario. Ds are a threat, but only N will be left with the suit, so N is our danger hand and S is our safe hand. We don't mind losing the lead to S if need be, but we can't afford to let N on lead.

The first part of any plan, as declarer, is to count up winners and losers. And with NTs it is useful to first count up the tricks you can win without losing the lead. Then, if need be, you can factor in whether/how many times you can afford to lose the lead, and where you might be able to create sufficient extra tricks. Here we have:

2S, 1H, 2C and, purely because they have led the suit,1D.

Six tricks - we need to find three more from somewhere.

As far as losers are concerned, we may well need to lose a H trick if we want to create any extra tricks from that suit; 1C trick should that be a suit we tackle; if we risk a S finesse then there could be a loser there, and we've obviously lost 2Ds in the first two tricks, with two more to lose if N gets on lead at all. All slightly concerning! And clearly the first priority has to be to keep N off lead.

Our best suit for extra tricks is the C suit, we have an 8-card fit there. We have to lose a C in the process, but if the suit splits 3/2 then once we've lost a C we will have created two extra tricks through the length we have in this suit. Unfortunately, that would still leave us one trick short. Our other most promising suit to look for an extra trick is clearly the H suit. We can take the finesse in this suit, playing a H from W to the QH on dummy. If N has the K then this will immediately provide us with an extra trick, and if S wins the KH then the good news is that they are our safe hand, and the JH is now set up as a winner for us. We need to do this while we still have the AC on the dummy though, so we make sure we can get over to the AH and JH afterwards. So, it looks like a good plan, once we have won the third round of Ds with the KD, to play the H straight away. S will win the KH and should play a S back, trying to find a way to get his partner on lead. Declarer cannot risk this happening so must take the AS.

Right, declarer has put half a plan into action and has created one more trick in Hs. Now he needs to organise those two extra C tricks - and make sure he does it in such a way that N does not win the lead. He could take the AC then the KC and play a third C, crossing fingers that S is the hand which has the third C and so will win the trick. However, you can see that he would be unlucky on this board, and if we can improve our chances from the crossing fingers point then that would be great! This C suit does not necessarily require us to win the first round, win the second round and then lose the third round - we can switch the order of those first three rounds according to what might suit us best. So instead of 'win, win, lose' we could try 'win, lose, win' or 'lose, win, win'. Our key priority, remember, is which hand we lose to - it can only be to S. So, let's play a C now, from W towards the dummy. If N plays a high card, 10 or higher, then we must win it and may resort to some finger crossing. But if N plays a lower card, 8 or lower, then we strategically play the 9C from the dummy - choosing to lose this first trick because it's to the S hand. You can see that's exactly what will happen here. Hurray!

S will again lead a S through us, hoping to get his partner on lead. Again, we can't risk that and must win the KS. But we're all set now. C to the AC on the dummy. Remember to take the AH and JH while we're there (discarding S from our hand). C back from the dummy to our KC and the Cs in our hand are now the last ones standing, to get us over the finishing line.