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When delaying the obvious play pays off

Figure 1

Not a lot happening right now on the local bridge scene – Barbara Seagram, a great supporter of the Bermuda Regional, was meant to bring a cruise group here last Monday to play in the club game, but that was cancelled at the last moment due to unforeseen circumstances, which was disappointing. She will undoubtedly return!

Next on the tournament calendar is the Junior Open Pairs which will be held at the club on Saturday, April 20, starting at 9.30am – full results here the week after.

Today’s hand harks back to a regular theme of mine, which is that good declarer play is often about giving yourself as many chances as possible to make the maximum number of tricks, especially if those chances come at no cost. Often that will mean delaying what looks like the “obvious” play, and that was exactly the situation on today’s hand (see Figure 1).

South opened one heart and the whole field got to the normal-looking four-heart contract – every West led the obvious Queen of clubs. At seven tables out of eight, declarer won the club in dummy to take the heart finesse – when this lost West continued clubs and declarer had to lose a trick in each suit – down one.

At the eighth table, declarer immediately saw that he might lose a trick in each suit if the trump finesse lost, as he would also have to lose a spade and a diamond, and would then finish a trick short of his contract. This declarer was a player who disliked relying on only one chance when there was an alternative available, and he spotted one.

Declarer saw that a better line of play was to win the club lead in hand with the Ace and then play a low spade towards dummy’s Queen. When declarer put this idea into practice, West rose with the King of spades and played another club.

Declarer won this with dummy’s king and cashed the established Queen of spades. As the cards lay it would cost the contract to take a trump finesse (West would win and cash a club), so declarer played a trump to the Ace and threw dummy’s remaining club on the Ace of spades.

Declarer now led a low trump towards dummy. After West took this with the king and East followed, declarer claimed ten tricks: two spades, four trumps, a diamond and two clubs.

Notice that if declarer’s chosen line of play does not work and the Queen of spades had lost to the King with East, declarer would still be in the position of trying a successful finesse in trumps to make the contract – so that chance did not go away.

This should be a general approach to declarer play – keep the “obvious” play in your holster if there is another chance you can create ahead of that play.

David Ezekiel can be reached at davidezekiel999@gmail.com


Friday, April 5

1. John Glynn-Molly Taussig

2. Alan Bostelmann-Heather Woolf

3. Jane Smith-Margaret Way

Monday, April 8

1. Gertrude Barker-Judith Bussell

2. William Pollett-Linda Pollett

3. Elizabeth McKee-Makiko Rogers

Tuesday, April 9

1. Malcolm Moseley-Benjamin Stone

2. Vivian Pereira-Wilena White

3. Jean Schilling-John Thorne

Wednesday, April 10

1. Rachael Gosling-Stephen Cosham

2. William Pollett-Linda Pollett

3. Lynanne Bolton-Greta Marshall

Thursday, April 11

1. Claude Guay-Sharon Shanahan

2. John Glynn-Rachael Gosling

3. Elizabeth McKee-Linda Pollett

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Published April 13, 2024 at 8:00 am (Updated April 12, 2024 at 2:21 pm)

When delaying the obvious play pays off

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