Seeing through cards #13


Knowing how to ask yourselves the right questions and then answer them is the key to improve your chances on any bridge hand, be it as declarer or as defender.

I’ll give you a hand below, and a series of questions – like a riddle! Try to answer these questions by yourself. Then look at the answers, which will be presented together with the full deal.

At the end we’ll summarize a few important “Things to remember” for each problem. Enjoy!


Dealer East, N-S Vulnerable


Against 3NT West led the 8.

  1. What do you understand from the lead?
  2. Let’s assume plays continues with you winning the first Heart trick with the A. Then you play the Q and both opponents follow suit. How many tricks can you count?
  3. What could be the problem?
  4. How do you plan to overcome this problem?
  5. How will you continue?

  1. What do you understand from the lead?
    It looks like a high – low play from a doubleton, towards his partner’s suit, as East showed 6 cards in Heart in the bidding.

  2. Let’s assume plays continues with you winning the first Heart trick with the A. Then you play the Q and both opponents follow suit. How many tricks can you count?
    You can count 9 tricks: 2 Hearts, 5 Diamonds, 1 Spade and 1 Club.

  3. What could be the problem?
    If Diamonds split 3-1, then the Diamond suit is blocked! After playing AKQ, your fourth Diamond in hand will be higher than the 2 remaining Diamonds in dummy, and when you win it in hand – You have no more entries to your fifth Diamond in dummy.

  4. How do you plan to overcome this problem?
    To overcome a blockage, you need to throw the high Diamond from the short hand. That way you keep your 5th Diamond tricks and solve your entry problem.

  5. How will you continue?
    The only suit longer in dummy than in hand is Heart. Therefore you need to throw the blocking Diamond on a Heart:

    After winning the Q:
    – cash the K(!)
    – play a Diamond to the K and then a third Heart from dummy (!!), throwing a Diamond from hand.
    – East will win it and follow with 3 more rounds of Heart, on which you discard 2 Clubs and 2 Spades from hand.
    – Win East’s Club or Spade return and you have one more Diamond in hand to get to your remaining A43 in dummy and cash all 5 Diamond tricks.

Things to remember


1) A blockage occurs when you have a suit with high cards in the short hand and no low card to enter the long hand. To overcome a blockage like this you need to throw the blocking card from the short hand (like our hand above), assuming you have no more entries to the long hand.

More examples:
a.

You are playing 3NT and opponents led a Spade. Diamonds split 2-1, but your suit is blocked, and the Spade lead took your only entry to dummy. (On a different lead you can play 4 rounds of Diamonds and then go to dummy on a spade.)

The solution is to cash your ♠AKQ, throwing 2 Diamonds from hand, and now you can get your 6 Diamonds.

b.

You are playing 3NT, and you get a Spade lead which kills your entry to the Heart suit.

Cash ♠AKQ and throw the AK from dummy! Now you can make your QJ109 and you have 9 tricks.

2) Lebenshol could be played in many sequences. The most common ones are:

– after Partner opened 1NT and opponents overcall, but also
– after opponent opened a weak 2 and partner made a take out double.

Playing Lebensohl, the continuations are:
a. Any 3-level bid without a jump is natural and constructive, showing 8-11 points.
b. With 0-7 points – bid 2NT (artificial). Partner is forced to bid 3♣ (partner can bypass the 3♣ forced relay only with an exceptional hand, where he can make another bid even if you are minimal). You then bid your suit, which is a weak sign-off, or pass if your suit is Club.
c. With a game forcing hand:
– Bid 3NT WITHOUT a stopper in opponent’s suit and without 4 cards in the other major.
– Cue bid opponent’s suit with 4 card in the other major and no stopper in opponent’s suit.
– Bid 2NT, then on partner’s 3♣ relay – bid 3NT to show stopper in opponent’s suit and no 4 cards in the other major.
– Bid 2NT, then on partner’s 3♣ relay – cue bid to show both: Stopper and 4 cards in the other major.

3) Another possible bid for South was 2NT, which shows 15-18 points after a weak 2 bid by opponents (and a Heart stopper).

Comments

  1. 9 tricks can only come from top tricks plus the diamonds running. Just an average unblock situation, South’s fourth diamond being pitched on a losing heart.

    1. The solution is based on a single way to play of opps. Lets think E will not continue his 3 hearts and will return a Club or a Spade. Opps are bridge players too!!

      1. The block was cleared with the third heart. Any return by E allows you to take your nine tricks.
        It’s a neat problem that I’ve never encountered in play, but now I’ll be ready.

      2. Doesn’t matter. He cashes his AK of hearts, then leads a diamond to the King, and leads a 3rd heart, dumping the high diamond on the short side. If East shifts suit instead of cashing his hearts, it doesn’t matter! He wins whatever comes back and takes his 9 tricks.

    2. The solution is based on a single way to play of opps. Lets think E will not continue his 3 hearts and will return a Club or a Spade. Opps are bridge players too!! Or, why to lead H if S bid 3NT after 2H open to E? I dont do that in 99% of cases

  2. First rule of bridge, concentrate. Second rule of bridge, remember the first rule.

    With apologies to Warren Buffet.

  3. let east have 4 heart tricks. cash AK of hearts. Then a dia to king, a heart toss a dia to unblock the suit.

  4. WEST has 6 hearts – bidding see. Let it’s make four. Another winning heart, an ace diamond and a third heart from the table (throwing a diamond out of your hand – unblock)

  5. The only way the above fails is if East opened 2 hearts with SEVEN hearts, which is pretty standard, if you’re in 1st or 2nd seat with 3 spades (don’t want to miss out on partner’s possible 5 card spade suit). If West led the 8 hearts singleton, then the hand is doomed, down 1, no matter what.

  6. Answer to brettb: if we played A ♥ Q ♦ K ♥ (E have 7 ♥) AR2 ♦ Ax ♠ if E have the distribution: ♠ xx (x) ♥ QJ10xxxx ♦ xx (x) ♣ K / Q; ♠ xxxx ♥ QJ10xxxx ♦ x (x) ♣ (x); ♠ xxx ♥ QJ10xxxx ♦ x (x) ♣ x (x) we will make 9 tricks with 10 ♠ or J ♣.

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