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Figuring out how to play certain suits

Fig 1: the hand

A lot of players have difficulty with card combinations and figuring out how to play certain suits, and that is understandable as it is not an easy area of the game. One has to, in the early stages, try and think it through carefully and over time the card combinations will become familiar and the plays will become reflex.

So, to get your brain moving, you end up in a contact of six Hearts – you have no outside losers, but your Heart suit is KJ10987654 opposite a void in dummy – what card do you play from your hand in order to possibly lose only one heart?

Let’s analyse it – if the opposing Hearts are 2-2 you are dead, so you must hope they are 3-1 with the 1 being an honour and you have to guess whether it is the Ace or the Queen? True or false?

False – if the Ace is singleton and you drop it by playing a low card the other opponent is then still left with Qx and you must lose another Heart. So, well done we are getting there, the only distribution that helps you is if the Hearts are divided Axx opposite the singleton Queen. Bingo, so your play is the King of Hearts pinning the Queen, after which you can collect the plaudits of the onlookers.

Today’s hand is a bit more difficult than that and requires an almost counter-intuitive play

See if you can make 3NT before reading on too far. (see Fig 1)

The bidding was textbook – South opened 1NT, North bid 2 Diamonds as a transfer to Hearts, and when South bid 2 Hearts North jumped to 3NT showing a balanced hand with a 5 card Heart suit and offering opener the choice to play 3NT or four Hearts. With 3 Hearts and shortness somewhere opener will usually convert back to 4 Hearts, but on this hand 3NT was the obvious spot, so that became the final contract.

West led the Diamond 2, clearly from a four-card suit and declarer won the Ace, mainly because a club switch would be really inconvenient. Declarer has six tricks, and no more, outside the Heart suit and thus needs 3 tricks from Hearts. If hearts are 3-3 any play would work, so declarer has to cater for a likely 4-2 break, and as you will see the correct play is just not easy.

Give it a good look before moving on.

No reasonable play will fail if Hearts are 3-3 but care is needed if they are not. The correct play is to play a Heart from hand and no matter what card is played by West play the 5 or the 6 from dummy! East wins and continues Diamonds which you win to play another Heart – once the Queen pops up you win the Ace and knock out the King and you have three Heart tricks.

Now notice what happens if you lead a Heart to the 10 on the first round- East, who now knows the Heart layout from the bidding simply ducks – you now have no route to three Heart tricks – try it! And notice that if West rises with the heart Queen on the first round of the suit you must once again play low to keep communication open with dummy.

Simple looking hand, wasn’t it?

Club results to December 18

Saturday 12 December

1. Joann Dawson - Mike Dawson

2. Charles Roraback - Molly Roraback

3. Richard Hall - Tim Mardon

Monday 14 December

1. Gertrude Barker - Jane Smith

2. Charles Hall - Margaret Way

3. Judy King - Martha Ferguson

Tuesday 15 December

1. Jane Gregory - Wenda Krupp

2. Sarah Bowers - Stuart Clare

3. M Louise Payne - Katyna Rabain

Wednesday 16 December

1. Linda Pollett - William Pollett

2. Lorna Anderson - Charles Hall

3. Gertrude Barker - Jane Smith

Thursday 17 December

1. Margaret Way - Jack Rhind

2. Charles Hall - William Pollett

3. George Correia - Heather Woolf

You must be registered or signed-in to post comment or to vote.

Published December 19, 2020 at 8:00 am (Updated December 18, 2020 at 6:29 pm)

Figuring out how to play certain suits

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