Lesson three

Instructions: Click on the link (the number of a deal) and after the movie appears, click on “Next” to have the opening lead. You can then click on “Play” and play the hand for yourself or by following my notes.

Deal one

Take one

West opens the defense with three rounds of spades, East ruffing dummy’s Jack with the 9. You over-ruff

In fact, if you played this way, you are already down.

Your trumps look more than capable of withstanding an assault but, if you make the mistake of overruffing, you will soon discover that East’s 10 has been promoted into the setting trick.

Yes, it is rather unlucky to find the preemptor with a 4-card holding in the other major, but that is not an excuse for carelessness.

Take two

Discard the losing King of diamonds at trick three and the remaining tricks will be yours.

The opponents could have set you, had they cashed their diamond winner, but that is a tough sequence of play for them to find.

Do not allow them to defeat you with the second-best defense.

Deal two

Take one

You win the opening lead with the King.

Actually, you are down one already.

You can lead a spade to dummy’s King and return the Jack of clubs for a finesse which lost to North’s King.

North then leads a heart and South takes four hearts for down one.

Take two

The key is to hold up on the first trick.

South takes his Ace on the second trick, but dummy’s ten provides a stopper.

If South shifts to a diamond at trick three, you can win in dummy and finesses in clubs.

North wins, but has no more hearts so you are safe.

Deal three

One of the primary reasons to choose a trump suit is that you can prevent the defenders from cashing winners in another suit.

Perhaps your immediate reaction when you see dummy is that you have missed an easy grand slam.

Such thoughts, though, are only likely to distract you from the task in this hand, making twelve tricks.

With all of those diamond winners in dummy, you have plenty of tricks, so it seems clear that you should start drawing trumps immediately.

Take one

A better option is to ruff a club, cross back to hand with the Queen of diamonds and ruff a second club.

You can then re-enter your hand with a heart ruff and cash the three top trumps.

If either defender holds four trumps and a singleton diamond, though, this line will also fail.

A rule of thumb: When a contract looks easy, you should always take a moment to ask yourself “What could go wrong?”

If you start by cashing two high trumps and either opponent shows out, you will almost certainly go down.

Your primary objective should be to safeguard your contract against the not insignificant chance that the trumps will break 4-1, which is supposed to happen one third of the time.

Since you will have to give up a trick in the suit if a defender holds four trumps, you should make sure you do so when it is safe.

That means when there is still a trump in dummy to deal with a club continuation.

Take two

The best option is to lead a low trump from your hand at trick two.

Sure, two-thirds of the time you are giving up an overtrick, but this is a small investment to pay for virtually ensuring the success of a slam contract.

This line of play fails only against some 5-0 trump breaks that would likely also defeat other lines too.

Deal four

Take one

A third heart goes to the Queen and East ruffs with the 6. Overruff.

You have nothing useful to discard from dummy on this trick and your trump suit is solid, so overruffing cannot promote a trump trick for the defense.

You have already lost two heart tricks and thus you must avoid losing two clubs.

I have bad news for you, it is too late to look for a medicine, the contact is dead in the water.

If you overruff the third heart, you will not then be able to draw three rounds of trumps ending in dummy.

You can unblock the Ace and King of diamonds and draw two trumps ending in dummy, but when West ruffs the next diamond your goose will be well and truly cooked.

The only realistic chance is to discard the losing clubs on dummy’s diamonds, but your sole entry to those winners lies in the trump suit.

Take two

Although in itself, it achieves nothing material, you must discard a club and allow East’s small trump score the trick.

You will then be able to win East’s return and draw two rounds of trumps, keeping a winner in dummy.

Having unblocked the Ace-King of diamonds, you can then draw West’s last trump, crossing to dummy in the process.

You can now happily discard your two losing clubs on dummy’s Queen-Jack of diamonds.

Deal five

You have six trump tricks and the two red Aces on top.

Dummy’s Q-J-10-x of hearts will give you the two extra tricks you need once you have conceded a heart trick to South.

All you need to do is to make sure that North does not gain the lead and switch to a club through your King.

Take one

Suppose you win the first trick with the Ace, cash the Ace of hearts and draw two rounds of trumps with the Ace and King.

You then run the Queen of hearts to South’s King, throwing a diamond from your hand.

Bad news here: this line will take you to anywhere.

Unfortunately, you still have one diamond left.

An inspired South can lead the 9 of diamonds to North’s 10 and a switch by North to the Queen of clubs will defeat you.

Take two

How can you prevent North from gaining the lead in diamonds?

It’s easy enough, once you have foreseen the problem. You must duck at trick one, allowing South’s King to win.

Win the next diamond with the Ace, unblock the Ace of hearts and play the Ace and King of trumps.

Then run the Queen of hearts, throwing the last diamond from your hand.

West has no way to reach his partner’s hand and the game is yours.

Deal six

Clubs are bound to split 4-2.

Therefore, if you try to ruff the fourth club, one of the defenders will already have ruffed your third lead unless you first take out two rounds of trumps and the person with two hearts also has two clubs, a low probability event.

The solution is to play a dummy reversal, ruffing three diamonds in your hand.

The moral of this hand is this: when you see that ruffing a loser is a low probability event, look to see if a dummy reversal is possible.


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