The ins and outs of avoidance play
The Guest Columnist this week is Alan Douglas. Alan has been playing bridge for more than 40 years, and has represented Bermuda in International Competition more than 20 times. He won the Caribbean and Central American Championships in 2003, and also has numerous regional and sectional wins to his credit. There are lots of events going on at the Bridge Club this month. Please check the Bermuda Bridge website-
www.bermudabridge.com for a full schedule of events. Today’s Bridge Theme is about the Avoidance Play. This play is intended to prevent or in some cases make it expensive for a “Dangerous Opponent” to gain the lead. Example 1. The contract is 3Notrump - Declarer South West leads the ? 6 to East’s ? Q, won by South’s Ace. With 7 quick tricks in sight, declarer must set-up the Diamond suit to make game. East is now the dangerous opponent if allowed to win a trick and return a heart through South’s ? J. Thus, declarer can use dummy’s 2 black suit entries to repeatedly finesse East in the Diamond suit. South plays the ? 2 to dummy’s ? K. Next declarer finesses dummy’s ? 9 ensuring West wins the trick by covering East’s ? 10 with the ? J, losing to West’s ? Q. Regardless of West’s Heart play, declarer can now the 9 tricks to make the contract. If East held and played the ? Q, South must cover the trick with the ? A so dangerous opponent East does not get on lead to defeat the contract by leading a Heart through South. Example 2 N West North East South 1? 1NT Pass 3NT all pass West leads the ? 2 against 3NT, East playing the ? J. You have seven top tricks in the black suits and must set up two more in the red suits before East can enjoy his long cards in spades. How should you arrange the play? Suppose you lead a diamond to the queen at Trick 2. East will win with the Ace and clear the spade suit. When you attempt to set up a ninth trick by leading towards the ? K, East will leap in with the ace and cash three spade tricks to put you down one. A better line of play (East is rated to have both red aces because of the bidding) is to cross to dummy with a club and lead a diamond towards your hand, East can win the Ace if he likes but at the cost of giving you the contract as now you will have two diamond tricks. So if he plays low on the first round of diamonds you win the ? K and return to dummy and lead a heart. East cannot beat you now and you will get a heart trick for your second red suit trick and make your game. You have avoided East and made your contract.