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Planning, patience and execution at core of good declarer play

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As I have written many times before, of the three disciplines in bridge – bidding, declarer play and defence – declarer play is certainly where newer players struggle most.

Unlike bidding, it is not something that can easily be learnt from a book, and getting better involves playing a lot of hands and, most importantly, learning from the mistakes one makes.

As one plays more, certain card combinations become familiar as do certain techniques, such as getting the defence to help you wherever possible.

With all that in mind look at today’s hand in Figure 1 and see if you can figure out a way to make sure of your contract – and yes, there is a way!

Figure 1

The bidding was pretty standard at most tables – South opened one spade and North had an easy raise to four spades. West led the Queen of hearts.

Some declarers won this and after drawing trumps tried a low club to the nine, hoping to find West with the ten and force out the Ace or King. When this lost to the ten, declarer went one down losing three clubs and a heart.

The play by declarer was pretty pedestrian, and lacked any real plan. Declarer needed to involve the defence, but that needed a little bit of preparation.

The winning play can be described as a “strip and endplay” where one gives the defence a trick at a time when any return by them helps you. So on this hand the winning play is to win the Ace of hearts at trick one, draw two rounds of trumps, play the Ace-King of diamonds, cross to a trump and ruff a diamond and now exit with a heart in this position (see Figure 2).

Figure 2

The defence is dead – no matter who wins the heart they either have to start the club suit which restricts the club losers to two, or they have to play a red card which provides a ruff and discard, again giving the contract away.

Planning, patience, execution and giving the defence what is theirs — at the right time — resulted in a great outcome.

David Ezekiel can be reached on davidezekiel999@gmail.com


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Published August 05, 2023 at 7:59 am (Updated August 05, 2023 at 7:59 am)

Planning, patience and execution at core of good declarer play

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