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Good declarer play always requires a plan – and solid execution

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There are three major components to playing bridge – bidding, declarer play and defence.

At the top level of the game I would rate their relative importance to results as 70 per cent, 10 per cent and 20 per cent in that order – at the club intermediate level I would rate it at 45 per cent, 20 per cent, 35 per cent. These are my ratings and others will see it differently.

Why the big difference between the two? Because players at the expert and world-class level ll play the hands superbly and rarely make errors so there is little gained or lost in that area – much the same with defence but there is still a more room for error even at the top level. So at that, level bidding takes on a much greater significance.

At the club level, novice and intermediate players can learn how to bid well pretty quickly, as it is usually just a function of how much time they are prepared to devote to it. Declarer play and defence, however, can only be taught to a certain extent and one gets better by putting in hours at the table and over time eliminating the errors.

Also, certain situations in play and defence get logged in the memory bank and everything becomes easier as one plays more and practices more!

As a result, the club games see the better declarer players gaining a lot of points over their opponents and the same applies to defence.

Good declarer play always requires two things – a plan, followed by careful execution.

On the hand (see Figure 1), declarer pretty much knew at trick one what he wanted to do, and he then set about taking great care in executing his plan.

Figure 1

East as dealer opened one heart, South had a perfect jump to three spades showing a non-opening hand with long spades and North had an easy raise to four spades.

After this straightforward auction, West led the six of hearts. Declarer was a bit surprised that North had not bid three no-trump; however, that could have been a bad move if South had held a minor-suit King instead of the Ace of spades.

Declarer’s first step was to cover the six of hearts with dummy’s nine, to prevent East from ducking and leaving West on lead to shift to a club. East won the nine of hearts with the Queen and found the excellent return of the Queen of diamonds, guarding against declarer having the King-ten-eight or King-ten-nine, which declarer took with dummy’s Ace.

Declarer expected East to have the King of clubs for his opening bid; consequently, he saw that his best shot would be to be endplay East with the fourth round of hearts, forcing him to lead a club into dummy’s tenace or concede a ruff-and-discard. In order to bring this to fruition, declarer realised that he had to stop West from gaining the lead in diamonds.

As a result, at trick three, he played dummy’s king of hearts and discarded his remaining diamond from hand when East played the Ace on the King. East could see that returning a red suit would assist declarer and so exited with a trump. Declarer carefully played the five of trumps from hand, not the two, and won the trick with dummy’s nine in order to ruff a heart in hand with the Ace of trumps.

Next, declarer led the ten of trumps to dummy’s Queen and ruffed dummy’s remaining diamond with his King of trumps. All that remained was to lead the carefully preserved two of trumps to dummy’s three to reach dummy for the last time. This was now the position (see Figure 2).

Figure 2

Declarer then executed the final step of his plan: he led dummy’s fourth heart and let East win the trick by discarding a club from his hand.

East had two unappetising options: he could return a club into the Ace-Queen or give declarer a ruff-and-discard. Either way, declarer would make ten tricks.

Brilliantly thought out by declarer and even more brilliantly executed!


Friday, July 1


1. Molly Taussig – John Glynn

2. Lynanne Bolton – Peter Donnellan

3. Diana Diel – Stephanie Kyme


1. Marge Way – Jane Smith

2. Charles Hall – John Rayner

3. Gertie Barker – Martha Ferguson

Monday, July 4


1. Stephanie Kyme – Joe Wakefield

2. Gertie Barker – Jane Smith

3. Jane Clipper – Michael Tait


1. Aida Bostelmann – Julia Beach

2. Sheena Rayner – Martha Ferguson

3. Lorna Anderson – Heather Woolf

Tuesday, July 5


1. Wenda Krupp – Jane Gregory

2. Marion Silver – Duncan Silver

3. James Fielding – Ben Stone


1. Jean Schilling – Mark Stevens

2. Nick Jones – Richard Keane

3. Desiree Woods – Tracey Pitt

Wednesday, July 6

1. Molly Taussig – Tony Saunders

2. Gertie Barker – Jane Smith

3. Pat Siddle – Julia Beach

Thursday, July 7

1. Gertie Barker – John Glynn

2. Stephanie Kyme – Charles Hall

3. Jane Smith – Peter Donnellan

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Published July 09, 2022 at 7:56 am (Updated July 09, 2022 at 7:47 am)

Good declarer play always requires a plan – and solid execution

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