March 26 2015

Source: ABF Newsletter

As usual, I seek your comments on a couple of (mis)plays of mine from recent excursions at the bridge table. As ever I am keen to improve my game regardless of whatever evidence says that I can’t! So here goes:

(Mis)play #1

manos lusk 1

West opened a weak 2spade and Glenda bid 2NT. I just bid 4heart over that and West led the Queen of spades. Naturally, I put the King on that and East won. Now I couldn’t make the contract. Apparently I can get the spade King as a trick if I don’t play it. That is a bit weird but should I have known?

(Mis)play #2manos lusk 2

We reached 3NT and West led heartJ. I played my queen and East put on the king. (Unlucky?) After that I had to lose one club, a spade and three hearts. I guess I would have done better if I hadn’t played my queen at trick one. What guiding principle exists here?

Dear Miss Play, There is a guiding principle that may help here. The more cards you have with an honour card, the better protection it has. So, in case number one, you need your spadeK as a trick. You are in no hurry for it as you have lots to guard the other suits. Unless West is being particularly clever, he or she doesn’t have the ace. With the weak two opening to guide you, the spade suit looks to be an open book. So not only does a full view of the hand tell you that the ace will fall of its own accord, you could have worked that out at the time. If you play low twice on the spades, your king will become a tenth trick. If West has been smart enough to lead from spadeAQJ10xx, then good luck to them.

The same principle applies to your second example. Had you held Qx in dummy and Axxx in hand, then the queen will lose all her protection after one trick. So, in that case, just play it and hope for the best. In this case, the queen is protected by all the small cards that go with it. It looks unlikely that you desperately need heartQ as a trick but you do need it to make three or more tricks as diffi cult as possible for the opponents, so play low, take the ace and hope that the spot cards can protect the queen for long enough. As the cards lie, West is never on lead again to put that heartQ under further pressure, so any sensible line of play will see you home.

One other common holding is Qx opposite A10x Here if they lead small, you only ever want to play the queen if you are desperate for two quick heart tricks. Otherwise, just play low and capture an honour with your ace. If the honour card is the king, your queen is promoted but even if it is the jack, your queen and 10 stand as equals against the king. Ignore that evidence, everyone can improve.