Seeing through cards #25

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 North, North – South Vulnerable

Against 4 West led the ♠K. East followed with the ♠3 and West switched to the ♣Q

  1. Where is the ♠A?
  2. Where is the ♣K?
  3. Where is the K?
  4. You have 9 tricks. Where do you plan to bring the 10th trick from?
  5. Will you win the ♣A now? If yes, how will you continue? If not — Why not?

  1. Where is the ♠A?
    With West. West chose a ♠K lead, and not ♠A, to ask for count. Without the Ace or Queen, West would have led a low Spade (if he still chose a Spade lead)

  2. Where is the ♣K?
    With East. If West had ♣KQ, he would have played the King at trick 2.

  3. Where is the K?
    With West. East passed West’s opening bid, which means: He doesn’t have 6 points. So if he has the ♣K, he doesn’t have the K.

  4. You have 9 tricks. Where do you plan to bring the 10th trick from?
    As Diamond finesse has no chance to succeed, the only chance for the 10th trick is to establish a Spade.

  5. Will you win the ♣A now? If yes, how will you continue? If not –- Why not?
    If you play low –- East can overtake with the ♣K, switch to the J, and you will now go down, losing 2 Diamonds, Club and Spade.

    So, win the ♣A and play the ♠Q, discarding a Club from hand. West will win it with the ♠A and continue with a Club.

    Ruff it with the 5 and play A, then the 6 to the Q.

    Play now the ♠10 from dummy and throw a Diamond from hand. West will get it with the ♠J and play Club again, but you will ruff it with the 7, play the 3 to dummy’s 4 and discard your Q on the promoted ♠9.

Things to remember

1) It’s advisable to agree that an Ace lead ask for Attitude (using standard carding, a HIGH card shown you want that suit, a LOW one means you don’t want it) and a King lead asks for count (using standard carding, when you play a high card, followed by a low one, you are showing an EVEN number of cards in that suit, while low – high shows an ODD number of cards)

2) Loser on loser play is used on many occasions: To keep long trumps and avoid getting shortened in trumps, to cut communication between defenders, to throw in the opponents and endplay them, when using a ruffing finesse, and, like in the hand above, also when you want to develop side tricks and avoid losing the lead to a certain opponent.

3) Counting and placing high cards can be done on almost every bidding sequence, whenever your opponents have bid something. With their bidding they reveal length, strength and can even give information on suits they didn’t bid. Also the cards they play can help you place the missing cards. Like here, it was easy to place the ♣K with East and all the rest of the top cards with West.

4) Entries are very important in Bridge. Sometimes you need to use the low cards as entries, like you did here with the 3 to the 4.

5) The balancing seat has other rules than the usual bidding. Bidding in balancing seat can be lighter in order to protect partner, who is marked with values in his hand (As we know that responder has 0-5 points for his pass):

a. Bidding a new suit can be done with a light hand and suit. It could be a bad 5 cards suit (unlike a 2nd seat overcall) or even with a 4 card suit.
b. 1NT is 11-14 (unlike the usual 15-18 1NT overcall in 2nd seat)
c. Double shows (8)9+ points (unlike a 2nd seat takeout double, which needs 12+ points)
d. Jump in a new suit is showing a good 6-7 suiter with 12-15 points (unlike the weak 2 or preemptive bid in 2nd seat)