Cautious Play



Dealer: E
Vul: N-S
North
 A
K 8 2
A 9 
A 10 8 7 6 5 4
 
     
  South
 K 5
A Q J 10 9 5 4
7
K 3 2
 

Lead: 5
Bidding:

WEST NORTH EAST SOUTH
    4 4
Pass 4NT Pass 5
Pass 5NT Pass 6
Pass 7 Pass Pass
Pass      

By Mike Lawrence

It amazes me how often someone runs into some bad luck and gives up. Bad luck may be fatal, but not so often that a little thought won’t find a cure. Have you ever said something like “I can’t eat my club loser. Down one?”

One of the marks of a good player is that he doesn’t take things for granted. He goes one stop further than the player in the introduction. He doesn’t wait for bad news, he anticipates it and acts accordingly if possible.

In the bidding, South would have preferred a slower approach to his hand, but East’s four diamond bid forced the issue. North tried Blackwood and settled in seven hearts with fair expectation of success. In view of East’s bidding, North felt he could count on South’s having the king of spades and the king of clubs.

West led his partner’s suit and declarer saw he had seventeen tricks if the clubs broke 2-1. A hasty player would draw trumps and then test the clubs. The thoughtful player looks ahead and asks what bad can happen and if there is anything that can be done about it.

Is a danger?

If you played this hand at the table, you would win the ace of diamonds and lead trumps. East shows out on the first round. What would you be thinking? Do you see anything to worry about and do you see a solution to it?

Given that this is a ‘column’ hand, you should do some thinking. For instance:

If either opponent has three clubs, they will get a club trick. If West has them, South has to go down. But if East has them, there is a way to win out. Normally, you would not expect the preemptor to be long in a side suit, but here, East showed out on the first round of trumps. It is possible that East has three clubs, given the news so far.

 



Dealer: E
Vul: N S
North
 A 
K 8 2
A 9
A 10 8 7 6 5 4
 
West
 Q 10 9 8 7 4 3 2
7 6 3
5 3
void
  East
J 6
♥  void
♦ K Q J 10 8 6 4 2 
Q J 9
  South
 K 5
A Q J 10 9 5 4 
7
K 3 2
 

Lead: 5
Bidding:

WEST NORTH EAST SOUTH
     4 4
Pass 4NT Pass 5
Pass 5NT Pass 6
Pass 7 Pass  Pass
Pass      

South proceeded thusly. First, he drew two rounds of trumps. Then he cashed the ace of spades, a crucial play as it turned out. Next came five more hearts and the king of spades reducing all hands to three cards. East had to keep a high diamond to protect against dummy’s nine so he had to throw a club. This meant South’s three clubs were good.

Normally, this line of play would not be required, but since it was without danger, it was “free” for declarer to cater to what actually occurred. Note that if declarer draws all three trump before cashing the ace of spades, he won’t be able to achieve the proper end position. Getting the ace of spades out of the way early is crucial.

If you are not convinced of this, write the hand down and play it out, drawing all three trumps before doing anything else.

If you looked forward and saw the need to play as shown, you have done well.

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