Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Some Bridge Adages Don't Always Apply
by Jim Kaplan

Philippe Galaski taught a valuable lesson in a beginner/intermediate class before Northampton Bridge Club competition on May 13.

Novices memorize adages as if they were mantras: second hand low, take the free finesse and so on. Galaski presents a couple of deals in which the adages should be abandoned.

NORTH
S J 9 7 6 3
H A 4
D 7 5
C J 9 7 6
WEST EAST
S K 8 5 S A Q
H J 3 2 H K 10 9 5
D A K 8 D 10 6 3 2
C K Q 10 2 C 8 5 3
SOUTH
S 10 4 2
H Q 8 7 6
D Q J 9 4
C A 4

The bidding proceeded as follows:

West North East South
1NT Pass 2C Pass
2D Pass 2NT Pass
3NT All Pass

Opening lead: Spade 6

“Take a minute and count your tricks: you have three spades and two diamond quick tricks plus a club trick from the king-queen,” Galaski says. “You have to find three more tricks.

“Possibilities: The heart suit can provide two tricks or even three if the heart queen is onside. The diamond suit can provide one more trick if diamonds divide 3-3, The club suit can provide one or two more tricks if the club ace or club jack is onside and clubs are 3-3 or if both the ace and jack are onside.

“Pitfalls: losing communication between both hands, giving time for the spade suit to be set up assuming spades are 5-3 or risking two losers if the diamond suit breaks 4-2.

“Play of hand: Declarer takes the spade queen and returns a low club. If South doesn’t go up with the ace, tempo is lost and West will make three. If South goes up with the ace and returns a spade, West is in trouble and will go down.

“Note: One shouldn’t always follow the maxims, i.e. second hand low. On this hand, the extra tricks will come from the spade suit and South needs to protect North entries.”

NORTH
S Q 8 3 2
H A 10 7 6 4
D K J
C Q J
WEST EAST
S 7 4 S K J 6
H Q 9 5 H J 8 3
D 7 2 D Q 9 8 6
C A K 9 8 6 3 C 10 4 2
SOUTH
S A 10 9 5
H K 2
D A 10 5 4 3
C 7 5

The bidding proceeded as follows:

North East South West
1H Pass 1S Pass
2S Pass 4S All Pass

Opening lead: club ace, followed by club king and diamond 7

“Play of the hand: Take a minute to evaluate the hand. You can see two clubs losers and at least one spade loser. It looks like the contract will make or break on the trump suit. The diamond 7 might be a singleton and spades might break 4-1 or even 5-0. The diamond queen seems to be in the East hand. Resist temptation to finesse with the diamond jack. Take the trick with the diamond king and play the spade queen from dummy. Now the contract is safe.

“Note: With the suit combinations in this hand, the play is NOT to come to the spade ace and then go up to the queen. The percentages are in favor of East having one of the honors, and the risk is that East has both. West already showed the club ace-king and with the spade king-jack may enter the bidding, especially with a long club suit. When getting a free finesse, think about where you want to be for the next trick. In this case, you want to be in dummy. You can always finesse later if needed as the diamond queen is likely marked in East.”

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