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Successful declarer play depends on keeping a clear head

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Figure 1
Figure 2
Figure 3

One of the key factors in successful declarer play is to keep a clear head and try and make plays that have the highest chance of success, as opposed to making reflex type plays that usually lead to success, but too often don’t.

This hand came up on BBO and it all looked a bit easy, but declarer didn’t look far enough ahead and thus didn’t have a real plan (see Figure 1).

The bidding (see Figure 2):

The bidding was good and 4 spades was the perfect spot - West led a heart.

Declarer ruffed the heart in hand and played the Ace and Jack of trumps and was pleased to see that trumps were 2-2. Now the reflex, non- thinking stuff crept in.

Declarer played the King and Ace of clubs and ruffed a club in dummy - now a heart ruff and another club ruff followed and , all too late, declarer realised he was stranded in dummy and had to lead a diamond away from the King - this ran round to West’s Queen and the defence took two more diamonds - plus 420 for declarer - not bad, but certainly not good!

The full hand (see Figure 3):

After drawing trump, declarer should sit back and think – the club suit is a bit of a tender trap as even if clubs come down there are no useful discards in dummy and the diamonds still have to be played – so, as dangerous as it looks declarer needs to start on diamonds. A low diamond to the 9 draws the Jack - the heart return is ruffed and when the second diamond is played the queen pops up on the left, covered by the King and Ace and now all the diamonds are good in dummy - this leads to +450 and a top board.

Players are often reluctant to play suits that look so exposed but if the suit has to be played some time you had better do it in a way that lets you benefit from a good lie of the opposing cards – as was the case here.

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Published May 15, 2021 at 8:00 am (Updated May 14, 2021 at 7:16 pm)

Successful declarer play depends on keeping a clear head

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