Thinking through the challenges of bridge
Bridge is a thinking person’s game – it calls into play a variety of skills including the ability to think clearly under pressure, some understanding of odds and percentages, a good memory always helps, and the ability to read the opponents at the table based on past experience or knowledge of who they are.
The first one, the ability to think clearly is one that can be developed by most players, allowing them to bring to the table as close to 100 per cent of the ability they have.
Some at the Club have this ability, which often allows them to sometimes outperform those with greater technical skill but less table presence.
Today’s hand needed some clear thinking by a defender.
South had opened a 15-17 HCP, No trump and North had an easy raise to 3NT and in a pairs game, all but two Souths out of 18 pairs declared in three no trump.
The lead by West was almost universally the six of hearts, as it was at this table and this dummy appeared.
East played the King of hearts, usually ducked by declarer, who covered the continuation of the ten of hearts with his jack.
West won with the queen of hearts and now had a decision to make.
Alas, most West’s continued with a third heart to declarer’s ace.
Here is the full hand:
When this occurred, the nine of diamonds was run to East’s queen. Declarer took the spade shift with his king then played a second diamond to the ten and ace.
When East again exited in spades, declarer had nine tricks: two spades, one heart, one diamond and five clubs – this happened at 14 of the 16 tables declaring in 3NT.
At one table, however, West did a bit of thinking and did not play a third round of hearts, instead shifting to the queen of spades at trick three.
When asked later why he did so, West explained: “Playing a third heart seemed pointless, as I did not have an entry to cash any heart winners. Also, on the bidding, partner could have at most six points in addition to the king of hearts.
“So the best chance for defeating the contract was that he had at least three spades plus the ace and queen of diamonds.
“Also, the switch could work if he had a black king and the queen of diamonds, provided declarer mis-guessed the diamonds.”
The spade shift worked very well. Declarer took the queen of spades with the king and ran the nine of diamonds to East’s queen.
The spade continuation now knocked out Declarer’s second stopper in that suit and declarer now had to give up on diamonds and cashed his clubs – this limited declarer to just eight tricks for a shared top for the East – West pair.
This was excellent defence, West, on realising at trick three that he now had an entry-less hand, found the spade switch which would give the defence a chance if East held the right cards – he did, and East-West were duly rewarded.
Bridge results, to Friday, January 7, 2022
1.Charles Hall - John Rayner
2.Jane Smith - Marge Way
3.Allyson Eadie - Lynanne Bolton
Monday 10 Jan
1.Inger Mesna - John Rayner
2.Pat Siddle - Gill Gray
3.Marge Way - Jack Rhind
Tuesday 11 Jan
1.Malcolm Moseley - Mark Stevens
2.Louise Payne - Katyna Rabain
3.Veronica Boyce - Carol Eastham
Wednesday 12 Jan
1.Marge Way - Judy Bussell
Tied for 2nd:
Wenda Krupp - Jane Gregory
Greta Marshall - Lynanne Bolton
Joyce Pearson - Lorna Anderson
Thursday 13 Jan
1.Magda Farag - Jane Smith
2.Stephanie Kyme - Charles Hall
3.Marge Way - Rachael Gosling