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Bridge: Keep the danger hand out and take all your chances

Not a lot going on as the Bridge Club enters its summer slumber though I hear there is a really good contingent travelling to the Summer Nationals in Toronto in July, so more news on that as we get closer.

This week’s hand is the sort that you will come across again and again — it involves two important principles in declarer play — keeping the danger hand out via a holdup play and then taking all the chances you are given on a hand, especially when they come for free!

Dealer South, Both Vul


S J54

H 105

D K864

C Q1074


S 108632

H 86

D J97

C A52



H A732


C KJ93


S K97


D 1053

C 86

South opened 2NT and North had an easy raise to 3NT.

West led the Heart King and both West and South noted East’s 8 which looked like the start of an echo (downwards play) showing a doubleton.

Declarer ducked another Heart just to play safe and won the third Heart, dummy throwing a Club and East a Spade.

Declarer soon saw that if West had the Club Ace there was no chance of success but Clubs had to be played and at trick four, declarer led a low Club to the Queen and East’s Ace. East switched to a Spade and after a lot of thought declarer played the Queen — two down, as West won the King and cashed two more Hearts!

“That was unlucky, taking the finesse was the right play,” moaned declarer.

The Spade finesse is a 50 per cent chance and Diamonds breaking three-three is only about 33 per cent so I did the right thing and got penalised!

Hmmmmm …. a little knowledge but not enough!

Partner was having none of this though: “You weren’t unlucky, in fact you were lucky in more ways than one but you just didn’t see it!

“Firstly you were lucky that East had the Club Ace and secondly you were lucky that Diamonds broke 3-3 even though you chose not to investigate that.”

The correct play is to first try the Diamonds and when they break 3-3 that is your ninth trick.

Now when East shifts to a Spade after winning the Club you don’t have to risk the finesse and just go up with your Ace and chalk up your contract.

If Diamonds had broken 4-2 then the Spade finesse becomes necessary — but not on this hand.

Partner could have been a bit gentler but was, of course, right.

The suggested play is 100 per cent right at Teams where the contract is all important, but is also recommended at Pairs where a possible overtrick (Diamonds would still have to be 3-3) is not worth the risk of going down.