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In bridge, the learning never stops

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One of the most compelling things about this great game of ours is that the learning never stops – for instance, all of a sudden a hand turns up that has a card combination that needs working out, and for most players that takes a lot of application and thought.

An expert veteran of the game might have come across the combination before and can solve the problem by reaching back into the memory bank.

With all of that as a preamble, put yourself in the East seat and see if you can work some magic in defence. See Figure 1.

Figure 1

South opened a 15-17 NT, North made a somewhat aggressive invitation to game by bidding 2NT and South bid the 3NT game. West led the five of clubs.

Declarer played low and you win with the Queen and have to decide where you go from here, as playing back a club is clearly futile.

Let’s do some thinking. By accepting the game invitation, South has shown 17 points and with dummy having eight and you having nine that leaves partner with six points, of which three are clearly the King of clubs.

Looking at dummy and at your hand it seems likely that partner has an entry in either spades or diamonds, but he could also have the heart King. So where do you go from here?

It looks like the best chance you have is in the heart suit, so you lead a low one and disappointingly declarer plays low and partner’s ten is won by the Jack in dummy.

Declarer now takes a losing spade finesse and partner wins to return a heart but it is all too late – the defence now just gets a spade, a heart and a club, and declarer makes ten tricks for a horror board for the defence, which is usually the case when a game contract is made with two balanced hands and a 25 count.

For the full hand, see Figure 2.

Figure 2

Can you now work out the right switch at trick two? Yes, it is in hearts, but which card?

Again, some thinking is needed.

Partner has led from a four-card suit (he led the five and you can see the two, three and four) – he is unlikely to have a four-card major or he would have led it on that auction so he is probably 3-3 in the majors. So far so good, your mind is working well.

If he has the King of hearts, any heart you lead will work, and if he has three small hearts no lead you make will work. But what if he has 10xx? Exactly! You now make the brilliant return of the heart Queen and declarer is dead. He wins the King, crosses to dummy with the Jack of clubs and takes the spade finesse, but partner wins and returns the heart ten and the contract is defeated by one trick instead of making an overtrick!

What if declarer sees through your plan and ducks the heart Queen? Well you now continue with a low heart, which declarer has to win and the contract again goes down one.

Beautiful is it not?

David Ezekiel can be reached on davidezekiel999@gmail.com


Friday, February 3

1. Marge Way – Tony Saunders

2. Gertie Barker – Martha Ferguson

3. Betsy Baillie – Delton Outerbridge

Monday, February 6

1. Ed Betteto – Joe Wakefield

2. Molly Taussig – John Burville

3. Gertie Barker – Jane Smith

Tuesday, February 7


1. Marion Silver – Duncan Silver

2. Carol Eastham – Nikki Boyce

3. Ben Stone – Peter Donnellan


1. Wenda Krupp – Jane Gregory

2. Jane Downing – Jamie Sapsford

3. Amanda Ingham – Heidi Dyson

Wednesday, February 8

1. Magda Farag – Peter Donnellan

2. Rachael Gosling – Ed Betteto

3. Gertie Barker – Jane Smith

Thursday, February 9

1. Jane Smith – Peter Donnellan

2. Lisa Ferrari – David Petty

3. Gertie Barker – Marge Way

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Published February 11, 2023 at 7:52 am (Updated February 11, 2023 at 7:52 am)

In bridge, the learning never stops

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