You may have to rethink your play with this hand
One thing that does not change for bridge players during this lockdown is their love of trumps - and lots of them.
Newer players particularly like the safety of having a lot of trumps, as it limits the potential damage on a hand.
Quite often though, a hand may play better in a tighter fit, and today’s hand is a good illustration of a decision that will come up countless times in your bridge life, and it is important to get it right.
You hold J83 AK95 763 762 and partner opens a Spade and right hand opponent passes.
You know partner has five Spades, but supporting Spades with three-card support and no ruffing values is not recommended, so I would bid a waiting 1NT, intending to return to spades at the two level.
Partner now jumps to three Hearts and all of a sudden, your hands looks lovely - you know partner probably has about 16-18 hcp and at least five Spades and at least four Hearts, so you have to bid game; but in what suit?
Do not be tempted to run to the safety of the Spade suit - you have probably found the golden 4-4 fit in Hearts and you must bid four Hearts and not four Spades, and you will soon see why.
See Figure 1, for the full hand
As you can see, four Spades goes down one as, with the Heart finesse losing, you have a loser in each suit.
Take a look at four Hearts, however. You can ruff the second Club and take the Heart finesse and even when that loses, you can win any return and play Ace King and give up a Spade - win any return and then draw trumps, and throw dummy’s losing Diamond and Club on the spades.
You then make three Heart tricks, four Spades, two Diamonds and a Club ruff - ten tricks. The 4-4 fit is hugely powerful and you always play in it if you have the opportunity.
For those of you who like double dummy problems, try the above hand on a Diamond lead at trick one and a Diamond return after the Heart loses - quite a different problem, so you may have to rethink your line of play!
Here is another, more extreme example of the power of the 4-4 fit - your partner opens a 15-17 NT and you hold S-KQJ654 H- AJ76 D-53C-5.
Do you investigate a Heart fit before committing the hand to be played in the obvious looking Spade suit? You should!
Partner’s hand and yours:
Six Hearts can’t be beaten, as either Diamonds or Clubs go away on the long Spades after trumps are drawn.
Six Spades is always down on a Diamond lead and without a Diamond lead, needs the Ace of Clubs to be under the King to create a Diamond discard - so six Hearts is massively superior.
Bridge results to May 6Thursday 30 AprilN/S 1, Lynanne Bolton — Peter Donnellan2, James Leitch — Donna Leitch3, Norna Anderson — Sancia GarrisonE/W1, Gertie Barker — Jane Smith2, George Correia — Inger Mesna3, Lisa Ferrari — Elizabeth BaillieFriday 1 MayN/S 1, Linda Pollett — William Pollett2= Alan Douglas — Jane Smith2= Peter Donnellan — Lynanne BoltonE/W1, Heather Woolf — John Rayner2, Diana Diel — Julia Patton3, Louise Rodger — Patricia Siddle