Expensive Errors by George Cuppaidge

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The hands featured in this column are not complicated. Each features an expensive error…

George Cuppaidge
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The hands featured in this column are not complicated. Each features an expensive error, the first by a defender and the second by declarer. A good player would not make either error, but I have a feeling that at least one reader might do the same. If you are that one, take these hands on board, they are very important indeed. G Cuppaidge hands 1

(1) My least favourite action, the stopperless 1NT. It completely mis-describes the hand. I know negative doublers will all double promising four hearts. A promise more often honoured in the breach. I have no problem; with no bid, I pass. If partner can’t bid again, we’ve missed nothing. I save double to announce, economically, a game going hand.

(2) If this West were my partner, this hand would mark our divorce. He has not only repeated the lie about his spade holding but he has ensured that 6, which is only beaten on the most unlikely heart lead, is not bid. Go away quickly please!

West led the Q and switched to a low diamond, won by East’s queen. How many players would make the same, dreadful, return as this East? He returned the J (sick, ugh, vomit!) Where is that heart loser, if any, going?

Declarer cannot make this hand without establishing dummy’s heart suit. He has five minor suit losers to deal with. If dummy is forced to ruff prematurely, even once, the heart suit cannot be established and enjoyed. If you fear giving away a ruff and discard, return a high diamond. This particular partner may hold five clubs, but he certainly won’t hold seven diamonds. So many players, when they see a void in dummy, live in terror of continuing with that suit. It is not always correct to do so, but when dummy has a long side suit, it almost invariably is. Ruffs and discards are very often the way to prevent that suit from being established and run. Declarer gratefully won the heart and ruffed a heart. Trumps were drawn in three rounds, leaving two in dummy, one was needed to enter dummy and ruff out the last defensive heart and the last remaining one to enjoy them.

Don’t forget to block that suit

This is really a beginner’s hand, but seeing my alleged expert stuff it up majorly, I include it for experts as well.G Cuppaidge hands

Holding the North cards, I heard partner open 2NT, unselfishly I transferred to hearts and bid my spades. I was soon to regret my actions. I could have bid Stayman, and over 3, bid 3, showing five but with so many people playing Smolen these days there was a danger that partner would treat this as showing five spades. So I went the way that was guaranteed to have the ox play the hand. Over my 3 he bid 4H. West led the 10 and the ox woodenly played the king from dummy, unblocking the suit. What a thoughtless play!

If the hearts are 3-2 there are simply eleven cashing tricks. If they are 4-1 or 5-0, the contract is still virtually cold. So please allow for the 32% (or nearly one time out of three) probability. Leave that K in dummy for a quick entry to play more trumps if one of those breaks eventuates. After cashing the top three in hand, declarer simply enters dummy with the K and plays queen and another heart. No one can prevent him now from cashing the ten tricks that God gave him. My man drifted two down when his foresight failed him at trick one

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