The rule of fourteen By Phillip Alder

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Defense is considered by most players to be the hardest part of the game. …When does defense begin?

By Phillip Alder
On 5 February, 2017 At 17:19

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Gadsden Times – 30 Abr 1991

South dealer N/S vulnerable

aaxx

West hand:    Q 10 9  Q 10 9 5  K 7 6  A Q 10

Lead: ???

Defense is considered by most players to be the hardest part of the game. This is because you, as a defender, can see only half your army, whereas the declarer can see all his forces, making it easier for him to plan his campaign. It is tough always to find the best play when you cannot be sure of your partner’s cards. When does defense begin?

Most people will answer, “With the opening lead,” but that isn’t really true. It begins with the bidding You won’t find the best opening lead if you don’t listen to and analyze the bidding. Look at the auction and only the West hand — no peeking. What conclusions can you draw, and which card would you lead?

Richard Frey

Richard Frey

Sitting West was Richard Frey, playing in the 1942 Goldman Pairs in New York, which he won with Sonny Moyse, Jr. They were two of the all-time greats of American bridge.

Frey applied the “rule of fourteen.” The opponents, having struggled into three no-trump, rated to have about 26 high-card points. Similarly the defenders would have approximately 14 points — hence the rule. Here Frey was looking at 13, leaving one for his partner. Which useful Jack could East produce? Best would be the Jack of clubs, so Frey led the queen of clubs. It was the killer (as would have been the club ace followed by the queen). Any other lead would have allowed declarer the time to establish the diamond suit and collect nine tricks.

The full hand:

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