Seeing through cards #22


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 West, All Vulnerable


You agreed to play standard carding with partner (for attitude: high card encourages and low card discourages; for count: high – low shows even number of cards, low – high shows odd).

You led the ♠A and partner followed with the ♠Q.

  1. Where is the ♣A?
  2. Where is the ♠J?
  3. Where is the K?
  4. Where is the Q?
  5. What will you play next?
  6. You played a low Spade. Partner took with the ♠J and continued with a 3rd Spade to your ♠K (declarer followed on the 3rd Spade). Now what?

  1. Where is the ♣A?
    With South. You have 13 points, dummy has 14 and declarer at least 9 for his jump. That leaves partner with at most 4 points, of which you already saw the ♠Q.

  2. Where is the ♠J?
    With partner. His ♠Q play promises the ♠J.

  3. Where is the K?
    With declarer, else he wouldn’t have enough points to jump to 2.

  4. Where is the Q?
    Likely with declarer, unless he bid 2 with a more distributional hand and fewer points.

  5. What will you play next?
    Continue with a low Spade to partner’s ♠J.

  6. You played a low Spade. Partner took with the ♠J and continued with a 3rd Spade to your ♠K (declarer followed on the 3rd Spade). Now what?
    Play your 4th Spade. The only chance to set is to promote a trump trick, hoping to find partner with the 10. Partner ruffs with the 10, declarer overruffs, and your J gets promoted as the setting trick.

Things to remember


1) When you lead a top card and partner follows with an honor – He promises the honor below it. So with Qx or Jx partner should follow LOW (playing the J promises the 10). When he follows with an honor next, you can conclude he has a doubleton.

2) A non jump suit response to a take out double shows 0-8 points. So with 9-11 points you need to jump. With a game forcing hand you can cue bid to show strength.

3) A promotion is a technique for the defense to develop a trick in the trump suit, even when it may seem, at first, that there is no trick available.

Example:


Heart is trump and it seems declarer has no losers in Heart. West, who overcalled with 2♣ leads the ♣K to East’s ♣A and gets a Club return to his ♣J.

He plays a low Club next and East ruffs with the J, forcing declarer to overruff with the Q. This promotes West’s 10.

Another example:


Heart is trump and it seems declarer has no losers in Heart. East overcalled 2♣. West leads the ♣A and continues with a 2nd Club to East’s ♣J.

A 3rd Club from East forces declarer to ruff with the Q (else West ruffs low), and by that promotes West’s 10.

4) When defense is trying to promote a trump trick, it is VERY IMPORTANT for them to cash ALL side tricks first, before playing the side suit which helps the promotion.

If they don’t do so – declarer could chose to discard a loser instead of ruffing. He will get ruffed now, but he will not lose a trick, he will just give a trick he was going to lose anyway.

On our example hand above it was clear partner can’t have the ♣A for 2 reasons: First, you counted points and realized partner can’t have more than 4 points. So after seeing his ♠QJ, he has no room for the ♣A. Second, in case you don’t have the point count (let’s say you’re on a different situation), if partner did have the ♣A, he should have cashed it after he took the ♠J and before playing his 3rd Spade. When he didn’t do so — it means he doesn’t have it.

5) Counting partner’s points really helps to know what to expect from him. Like here, you could conclude (from analyzing partner’s hand) that your best chance for 4 tricks is to play for 3 Spade tricks and attempt to promote a trump trick.