Mike's Advice


When I play bridge, it often crosses my mind that I have never seen a position like the one in front of me. Or perhaps the bidding will be such that I can honestly say it is new to me. Some of the bidding situations are the result of a blind spot. On one occasion I doubled 3NT and a minute later they were in 6NT. I doubled that, too, and found that my judgment in doubling 3NT was correct. Down lots. It turns out that one of my opponents thought 3NT was forcing and they never noticed my double. They wrote down minus 1400, but it did not stop everyone at the table from having a good laugh.
Play situations are different. Some interesting themes repeat themselves. Here is one that I have seen once.
I will show you the entire hand.

Dlr: North ♠ Q 2
Vul: N-S Q 7 5 4 3 2
9 8
♣ 10 9 8
♠ K 3 ♠ 10 9 8 7
K J 8 6 A 10
Q J 10 6 5 4 K 7 3 2
♣ 7 ♣ K 6 3
♠ A J 6 5 4
♣ A Q J 5 4 2
West North East South
Pass Pass 1♣
3 Pass 5 5♠
All Pass

I was South, in third seat. The auction went as shown. West was a pest and his 3 bid came at a good time for his side. When East bid 5, I felt obliged to risk 5♠, and that became the final contract. North perhaps should have bid 6♣, but that will fail routinely, so perhaps passing 5♠ was better. West led the Q.

Do you think that you would rather play 5♠ or defend 5♠ after the lead of the Q?

After winning the first trick, South led a small spade, hoping to get to dummy in order to take the club finesse. West did what the world does. He took the ♠K and continued diamonds. South ruffs the next diamond and enters dummy with a spade. Now the club finesse allows South to pick up the clubs and then draw trump, claiming all but the last trick. Making 5♠.

You have seen how 5♠ might make after a diamond lead. Do you want to bet that it is cold or do you want to bet on the defense?

Here is the answer. It is one of the most beautiful hands I have seen. When South leads the spade, West lets South have the trick with dummy’s queen. It looks like this loses a spade trick but it comes back. South now follows his plan of playing on clubs. The finesse works, but South has to repeat the finesse and West ruffs. The clubs are good now but East’s four spades to the 10 become a trick, so South goes down one.

Now a word to my readers. If you see a situation like this one that is a serious and fascinating variation on a bridge theme, let me know. If it makes the grade, it may appear here. Silly things need not apply. I can find those any time I pick up a deck.

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