Spade Heart  Diamond Club
Play or Defend?
Play or Defend?
Play or Defend?

Do you like to Declare and play the hands or Defend sometimes in an attempt to get better scores?

Another hand from the Llangollen Swiss teams event saw Michael Byrne (one of the country's best players) go fo a large penalty when just making a simple overcall.

After South had passed, West opened the bidding with 1 and Michael decided to overcall with a lead directing 1.  A fair 5 card suit headed by the Ace and ten hcps, what could go wrong?

E/W were playing a convention employed by most tournament players these days, Negative Doubles, where a call of Double would show general values in the other suits.  When holding the suit overcalled, it is almost always best to pass and wait for your partner to re-open with a Take Out double.  Here, with a juicy 12 hcp and 4 good spades sitting over the overcaller, it was easy for East to pass and await the "money".

After A lead and continuation, West played a Spade which north won with A. K was played and allowed to hold and Q soon followed, this time taken by A. A third club was led and ruffed by declarer who played a 3rd and 4th round of diamonds. 

With West unable to ruff, Michael was able to dispose of a Heart loser on the fourth round of Diamonds while East was forced to ruff with 10.

E/W eventually took 8 tricks for +500.  Although gaining more that the value of their NT game and its overtrick, E/W slipped a trick.  Better is to cash 3 hearts before playing the 3rd club.  They still gained 3 IMPS on the hand for defending.  Perhaps a little more defensive thought and they could have got +800 and that would have been a juicy 9 IMPS.

No one else in the whole room got +500, so if they were playing pairs, even that would have been an outright "top"!

TIP : Think about playing Negative Doubles and remember to pass if you have a good suit sitting over your opponents overcalled suit.