Making the most of your intermediates by M. Bergen

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Because of a lack of entries to dummy, 6NT is not a good contract. Either…

By Marty Bergen
On 19 August, 2014 At 17:04

Category : Intermediate @en, Intermediate 1

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Marty Bergen 2
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Source: ACBL Bulletin January 2006

Dlr: Sout; Vul: Both

6 5 3
10 9 4
K 4
A 8 7 4 2
A K 2
A K Q J
A 6 5 3
K Q
West North East South
      2
Pass 2 Pass 3NT
Pass 6NT All Pass  

West leads the Q.

Because of a lack of entries to dummy, 6NT is not a good contract. Either 6 or 6 would have been much better. Was there an easy way to bid slam in one of your seven—card fits?

I do have some ideas, but let’s save that for later. Now is not the time to allow your mind to wander. You count your sure winners. Two spade, four heart, two diamond and three club tricks (the K is an entry to the A). If you are lucky enough to get a 3-3 club split, you’ll promise not to complain about anything for a month. You carefully win the A and cash the K. West follows with the 9 and East plays the 3. You lead the Q and West follows with the J.

Time out! Because of North’s 7, don’t you dare play low from dummy. The sky is no longer dark and gloomy, and out of nowhere a gorgeous rainbow has appeared. You must overtake the Q with dummy’s ace. After you overtake, here are the remaining clubs in dummy: 8 7 4 and here are East’s clubs: 10 6.

You are now on the board and can continue clubs by leading dummy’s 8. East can win with the 10, but your troubles are over. The well-preserved K is still on the board for an entry that will enable you to capture East’s 6 with dummy’s 7. Then you can win the 4 for your fourth club winner and, more important, your 12th trick.

Here is the entire deal.

  6 5 3
10 9 4
K 4
A 8 7 4 2
 
Q 10 8 4
8 3
Q J 10 8 7
J 9
  J 9 7
7 6 5 2
9 2
10 6 5 3
  A K 2
A K Q J
A 6 5 3
K Q
 

How do you arrive at a better slam? I don’t know of a logical way to reach 6, where it is easy to win four club tricks (while losing one) without overtaking. But, I do believe that 6 is biddable. After the 2 response, South did not have to rush to bid 3NT. If he had appreciated his great heart suit and bid 2, North would have been happy to raise. Remember: A suit with 100 honors can be treated as if it contained an extra card. By ruffing two diamonds with dummy’s 10 9, 6 would be easy to make.

When in doubt, don’t

Perhaps the most popular bridge misconception is: “In a suit contract, declarer should immediately draw trumps.” Why do so many believe this? It is because:

• They can’t forget the contract that was lost when they didn’t draw trumps and a defender ruffed one of their winning tricks.

• Their friends taught them that the first thing to do is “get the kiddies off the street.”

• Their first bridge teacher gave them very easy hands, in which they didn’t have to do anything except draw trumps and take their tricks. Is this correct? No way!

The truth is: it is usually wrong to draw trumps ASAP. In fact, I would estimate that declarer should draw trumps first only 40% of the time. It would be absurd to say that drawing trumps first is never correct. There are many reasons, however, to postpone drawing them.

Here are a few:

• You need to ruff losers in dummy.

• You must preserve trump entries in order to develop a long suit or set up an endplay.

• You are eager to set up a side suit on which you will discard losers.

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