Unit 216 & Des Moines Area Bridge
by Rich Newell


 

WHAT TO PLAY TO THE FIRST TRICK?

You open 1♠ and your LHO bids 2 .  Partner bids 2♠ but the opponents end up in 5 .

Your partner leads the king of spades and you see the following dummy.  You have six different choices to follow to this trick.  Which one is best? Decide before reading on.
 

                             ♠  2

                               Q7

                               T9542

                             ♣  KQJ76

K♠ lead                                            ♠ AQJ653

                                                            T64

                                                            J

                                                          ♣  A85
 



Normally in a suit contract when dummy runs out of the suit you attack, you give suit preference.  If you wanted partner to lead a club to your ace (the lowest suit) you would play your lowest card, the 3.  If you were desperate for a heart shift, you would play the Q.  If you had no preference, you would play the 6.

But you don’t want any of this to happen.  What you hope is to get a heart trick, and that isn’t going to happen with your partner on lead. 
 

SOLUTION: Overtake the king with the ace and lead the ten of hearts before declarer gets the clubs set up for pitches.
 


                                               

                             ♠  2

                               Q7

                               T9542

                             ♣  KQJ76

♠  KT87                                                ♠ AQJ653

  K8532                                               T64

  Q3                                                    J

♣ 32                                                    ♣ A85

         

                             ♠ 94

                              AJ9

                              AK876

                             ♣ T94          

 

Toby & I won this event holding the N-S cards, and our opponents holding E-W finished 2nd.  Had the spade opener's partner made this play, they would have been 1st instead.

 

Submitted June 8, 2018

When To Cover An Honor

 

At the April 2018 sectional, Toby found himself in this predicament:
 

                        ♠  -

                          -

                          AQ9

                        ♣ -

♠ -                                            ♠ -       

  -                                             -                               

  K4                                          Txx                          

♣ T                                          ♣ -

                        ♠ -

                          -

                          J5

                        ♣ 6
 

He needed the last three tricks to make his contract, but was in what should have been a 100% losing situation.  His club was not winning, so he needed three tricks out of the diamond suit.  He led the jack of diamonds, LHO played small, and the trick held.  Now he was able to repeat the diamond finesse to make his contract.

So what went wrong?  LHO failed to cover the jack with the king.  Let’s step back and think about the situation with some logic:

  • If I don’t put my king on the jack, declarer will be able to take all three tricks. (BAD)
  • What if I do play the king?  Now declarer can win the ace.  What happens next?
    • If declarer has the ten as well, he can smother it with the queen and win the nine in dummy; declarer was always taking three tricks on this lie of the cards. (BAD)
    • If my partner has kept three diamonds on the ten, covering declarer’s jack will have promoted this card, and declarer will go down. (GOOD!)

So from a defensive viewpoint, covering an honor is often necessary.  Mandatory in this instance, since you have nothing to lose.

But there are exceptions.  Most of the time, covering an honor is the right thing to do and should be nearly automatic, but you need to keep your logic skills at the ready.  The remainder of this lesson is to show you when NOT to cover an honor.

When not to cover an honor
 

                        ♠ J72

                          A4

                          QJT97

                        ♣ 874

♠ T5                                          ♠ Q96 

  K9532                                    Q876                                   

  863                                         K42                         

♣ K53                                      ♣ JT92

                        ♠ AK843

                          JT

                          A5

                        ♣ AQ6
 

Suppose the bidding goes 124by the opponents and partner leads the  3.  Declarer plays the queen, what now?  Let’s think logically:

  • Who has the ace of diamonds?  It must be declarer for two reasons.  First of all, he went to game opposite a simple raise, so he has a lot of strength.  More importantly, partner would never underlead an ace in a suit contract (if you do that, consider stopping)
  • So what is going to happen if I cover the queen with the king?  Declarer will win the ace and have a bunch of diamond tricks waiting for him in dummy.  All he has to do now to make his contract is play out three rounds of spades, go to the board with the ace of hearts, and pitch losers.
  • My king does not look like it is going to take a trick.  The purpose of my king therefore is simply to prevent the diamond suit from getting set up. 
  • If we are playing 3rd/5th leads, I am staring at 2 the so the 3 is the lowest diamond in partner’s hand.  Therefore,
    • The 3 could be from three small, suggesting declarer has only two diamonds.
    • The 3 could also be a singleton, in which case declarer has four diamonds.

So you duck the diamond and the queen wins.  Now you should always get one spade, one heart, and two club tricks.  If declarer leads the ♠J make sure you cover (hoping partner has the ten to promote your nine) but the more sensible play here is low to the AK, hoping the queen drops doubleton.

Two important conclusions:

  • In bridge, it is important to work out decisions like these logically. 
  • It is also helpful to anticipate these decisions.  If you prepared for a decision and react smoothly, it can make life more difficult for declarer. Many times when a defender has to stop and think at a trick that could have been worked out earlier, sometimes it gives information to declarer.

Submitted May 19, 2018

ATTACK OF THE TWO-SUITERS

ATTACK OF THE TWO-SUITERS by Rich Newell

One of my best partners during the Minnesota phase of my bridge habit was a Canadian named Scott Martin who sadly died in his mid 40’s.  Anyone who knows me knows I crave 70% games (I have had 3 of them).  For Scott the dream was being dealt 13 cards in two suits, something I don’t think he ever experienced. 
 

Well this fall 2-suiters have been running amok in my life.  On October 21 I was with Toby at a sectional in Omaha and was dealt this hand:


ME                              TOBY

♠ -                                ♠ J73

  AKQ7654                 9

  QJT765                     984

♣ -                               ♣ KJT975
 

Unfortunately the opponents were bold enough to bid to the level of 5♠ which makes, so my 6 sacrifice was only due to result in an average board.  I got a 4-1 trump split and Toby didn’t provide any assistance with the diamond suit.  Even more unfortunate, the shock of the hand caused me to lose track of the trump situation and I went down an extra trick for a near zero.
 

Then on November 7 I found myself in the Los Angeles area at a seminar.  I picked up a partner at the Beverly Hills Bridge Club and this occurred:
 

ME                              PARTNER

♠ -                                ♠ ??????

  -                                 ??

  AJT9xxxx                 Kxx

♣ AKJ9x                     ♣ Qx
 

The auction started 1  by me, 1NT by LHO, 2♠ by partner.  Now I bid a timid 3♣ which was about to end the auction until RHO chimed in 3 .  Now 4 by me, 4 by LHO, 5 by me, and 5 by RHO to end the auction.  I really didn’t think I had too much defense although I probably should have doubled out of principle since partner made a free bid and RHO procrastinated.
 

Dummy came down:
 

♠ AKTx                                  

 AQxx                                  

 Q                 

♣ Txxx                       
 

I turned to LHO and inquired why she didn’t make a takeout double over 1. Well she was clearly a beginner who was not well versed in doubles, so she bid 1NT to show her 15 HCP.  Declarer had six hearts and two queens to her name, going down two and scoring a top board.  I was quite dumbfounded by the turn of events.
 

The trifecta just arrived today, November 14.  This hand was in a Bridge Base Online (BBO) ACBL matchpoint game and was much kinder to me:
 

ME                              BOT (CHO)

♠ AKQJ65                  ♠ -

 AKJ8753                 Q92

 -                                 JT754

♣ -                              ♣ QJ985
 

The bot in front of me opened 1  making my task simple enough.  I bid 2 , partner bid 2 , and I raised to 7 which scored 86%: 4 people tied this result, 11 weren’t in a grand, and 2 didn’t ruff out a spade and went down.
 

SO EXACTLY HOW LIKELY IS ALL THIS?

The probability of getting all 13 of your cards from 26 particular cards in the deck is
 

26C13 / 52C13 = 1 in 61,055
 

But this would be for a specific situation like hearts and spades.  As there are 4C2 = 6 ways to choose which two suits your cards will come from, it becomes 


6 x 26C13 / 52C13 = 1 in 10,176.
 

If you play one game of 26 hands of bridge every week, you would expect to be dealt one 2-suiter every 7 ½ years.  It’s quite amazing that I was dealt three of them in less than a month!
 

Submitted November 14, 2017