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Release 2.19q
Interesting Hands
14 January 2022 - Board 21

A member wonders whether it's possible to get to 6♠  on this deal.

Looking at the analysis, North can make 5♠ , and South can make 6♠ , so the first observation is that it's pretty unlilkely for South to declare a contract in Spades, and therefore 6♠  is "no go".

In practice, 4♠  was played by North at every table, but two declarers managed 12 tricks. Let's see if we can work out how.

All Easts led a club, which West presumably won. Looking at the North-South assets, there are 6 spade tricks, 1 heart trick, and 4 diamond tricks after North draws trumps, plays 3 rounds and ruffs the 4th diamond in hand. That makes 11.

It seems that the defenders who gave up 12 tricks attempted to cash a second club at trick 2. Declarer ruffs this, and now the ♣ Q is the 12th trick. This is a good example of "declarer's advantage". It's much easier to manage your assets (i.e. as declarer) if you can see 26 cards, and yet another reason (in general) to bid aggressively.


Last updated : 17th Jan 2022 11:40 ESTA
10 January 2022 - Board 2

Here's an oddity. East-West have bid to 5♣  in a pretty direct way. Your partnership might do it differently, but all roads should lead to either 5♣ or 3NT.

The oddity is that South appears to have three tricks, the ♣ A, the ♠ K and the  K, but South is end-played at trick 1! These are the ugly choices:

  • Lead the ♣ A and put off the misery for one trick, or
  • Lead a spade and lose the spade trick, or
  • Lead a diamond and lose the diamond trick, or lastly
  • Lead the  K, which looks reasonable, but is also fatal: East takes the  A, and eventually leads a heart from hand, building a heart trick via a ruffing finesse to discard a spade from dummy to avoid the spade loser.

Some days you're the windscreen, and some days you're the insect!

Last updated : 17th Jan 2022 11:25 ESTA
31 December 2021 - Board 8

In the suggested auction, South cues East's suit to show a good hand with a club fit. North's heart holding suggests 3NT.

East leads  Q. Over to you.

The hearts appear to be 6-1, and the club finesse will lose to West if the ♣ K is wrong, so no holdup is necessary, since West is already out of hearts after trick 1.

Counting our tricks, we see 2 hearts, 3 diamonds, and 3 or 4 clubs. If the club finesse is wrong, there are only eight tricks.

This is one of those times when a "just in case" play, routinely made by top players and difficult for us mere mortals, is worth a try: cash the  A before doing anything alse and lo! East is void.

Now, a diamond to the 10 and we have four diamond tricks. Deblock the  Q next and try the ♣ Q. If it loses and West returns a spade, we need to put up the ♠ K as the only chance, since if East has that card, we are dead.

Sadly, this is real life and down we go, but the diamond play is worth remembering.

You can see the full deal by clicking "Show All Hands".

Footnote: Which spade do you think West should return? A low one to the Jack will make East nervous about cashing the Ace, since it's not obvious that the King will drop. The Queen lead is the winner this time, since West is pretty sure it's necessry to run the spade suit to beat the contract.

Last updated : 3rd Jan 2022 07:00 ESTA
17 December 2021 - Board 1

The search for the first entry in this feature didn't take long - It's Board 1 - a competitive battle. This deal is an illustration of the need to get in early and often.

North has 2 quick tricks and 7 losers, suggesting a 1♠  opening. If North passes, the auction will probably continue 2 -Pass-4, and now it's a bit difficult to get into the action. Better to open 1♠, thus getting in early.

East needs to show the hearts. The choices are 2 , which should suggest a sound overcall. 3  suggests a hand more like a Weak Two, so that seems more appropriate.

South's long-term winning strategy with a 10-card fit and little defense is an immediate "bid the trumps" raise to 4♠. North's opening move has paid off, since NS can make 9 tricks against best defense, a much better outcome than allowing the opponents to make 4.

West has a difficult decision now. 4  is a probable make, so West's choices are Double, Pass or 5. Pass is poor - If 4 is making, it's impossible to get enough compensation unless West doubles. Even in that case, EW would need 500, which means taking 6 tricks on defence, an unlikely prospect. With a probable spade loser and no likely red-suit losers, the question is whether EW will lose 2 club tricks. Let's say West decides that East is likely to have something in clubs (after all, where else?) and bids 5.

Now it's North's turn to ponder. North can see only one spade trick and the ♣ A. South's pre-empt makes a third trick for NS moot, so 5♠  is indicated. EW need to double this to protect their score.

The "par" score on this deal is 300 to EW, which this auction achieves. If you are not familiar with this concept, it is the best score that can be achieved by either side if everyone does the "right" thing. On this deal:

  • NS must bid 4♠  because -100 (if doubled) is better than -420 for 4
  • EW must then bid 5 because +450 is better than +100
  • NS must then bid 5♠ because -300 (if doubled) is better then -450
  • EW must then double because +300 is better than +100, and EW cannot make any higher contract.

You might think that this is a difficult deal, and you would be correct. This was a Nationwide Pairs deal played 107 times. The par score was achieved - once.

This is hopefully the first in a series. In later efforts, I will use a quiz format some of the time to test your bridge and generate some discussion. Feel free to (a) comment on this deal, and (b) submit deals you would like discussed in future entries.

Cheers for now,

Last updated : 22nd Dec 2021 08:58 ESTA