Last week I got an email from one of my readers — the other one is possibly away for the summer. His name was Paddy and he wrote as follows: ‘Dear Janet, I love your column [I warmed to him immediately] but I have been rather confused lately. I’m not a good player, and I have spent most of my life trying to win tricks as cheaply as possible, but recently you have featured several hands where you advocate playing an unnecessarily high card. I think learning players like myself would be better served by just reading about plain, old-fashioned good bridge.’
I take your point Paddy, but sometimes it is hard to distinguish between the two. Today’s hand is about plain old-fashioned good bridge, with one problem — the contract made. One tiny ‘unnecessary’ amendment brings it crashing down. Cover up the last paragraph and see if you spot it. (see diagram)
Against this normal 3NT, West wisely decided to try to give nothing away by leading a middle Heart from three small — often a good tactic from that sort of hand. The 8 was covered by the 10, and South ducked twice and took the third one. In the fullness of time, he had to give West a Spade and the Ace of Clubs, but he emerged with nine winners.
After the fine lead, though, this contract should have gone down. Don’t look now Paddy, but all East had to do was cover dummy’s 8♥ at trick one with the Queen instead of the 10. This will convince declarer that he has another stopper in the suit, and ducking would be suicidal. West may not immediately appreciate what’s happened, but sooner or later he’ll try another Heart anyway, and the defence has five tricks.
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