Seeing through cards #30

Oren Lidor
Seeing through cards with Oren Lidor

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

I’ll give you a hand along with a series of questions. First, try to answer them yourself, and then take a look at the answers. 

At the end I’ll summarize the important things to remember. I hope you enjoy the challenge!

Here we have just the North and East hands, along with bidding. You’re sitting East. Answer the questions below and click the solution button when you’re ready to see how you’ve done.

Dealer South, 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).

Your partner led the 10 and declarer played the K from dummy

  1. How many points does your partner have?
  2. What do you make of your partner’s lead? 
  3. What do you hope your partner has in order to set? 
  4. How will you play?

  1. How many points does your partner have?
    Declarer’s 2NT rebid showed 12-14 points and a balanced hand. Dummy has 13 and you have 7 points which means your partner has 6-8 points.

  2. What do you make of partner’s lead?
    Partner led his short suit. Was it a singleton or doubleton? Look at the bidding: If your partner had a singleton, that would place declarer with 4 Hearts and then he would’ve surely rebid 2. Therefore, your partner has 10x.

  3. What do you hope your partner has in order to set?
    You need to hope your partner has 2 tricks in his hand (he can’t have more than that with only 6-8 points), 1 of them must be in trump (♠A or ♠K), the other in Diamond. A 3rd Club will not work even if declarer has xxx as he can manage to discard a Club on a 4th promoted Heart (after he pulls out trumps).

  4. How will you play?
    Even if your partner has 2 tricks, it’s still not enough, as you just have 1 trick. The setting trick, therefore, must be a Heart ruff, and to let your partner ruff a Heart you must DUCK trick 1! If you win A now and play another Heart, you will have no more entries to your hand. So duck trick 1 (encourage with the 8). Declarer then wins with the K and plays Spades, which your partner wins with the ♠A. He then plays his 2nd Heart, and you get the A and let him ruff a Heart. Later your partner will make his K as the 4th trick for defense.

Things to remember

1) Take note of North’s 2♣ bid. It’s best to agree that a direct 4♠ bid shows a weak hand with 5 Spades (it’s preemptive, designed to put opponents out of the bid). So, with a good hand we bid another suit 1st and later bid 4♠ to show an opening against the opening hand. This bid could help the hand above finding a possible 4-4 Heart fit which is normally better to play than a 5-3 fit.

2) Playing SAYC (Standard American Yellow Card bidding system): When responder changes suit in 1 level, then 1NT by opener shows 12-14 balanced, and 2NT shows 18-19. When responder changes suit in 2 level (as here) then: 2NT rebid by opener shows 12-14 and 3NT shows 18-19. When playing 2/1 you can have another agreement for 2NT rebid as the sequence is Game Forcing (eg you can agree that it is either 12-14 or 18-19)

3) You can have many agreements for a 10 lead. With 10xx you can play MUD (Middle Up Down, where you lead the middle card) OR agree for a count leads (leading low from 3 cards), but you shouldn’t lead the 10 from 10xx if you don’t have the 9. In this hand, partner led the ♥10 and when you see the ♥9 in dummy, it’s clear the lead is from ♥10x.

4) Ducking is a very important tool to maintain communication. Here you had 1 entry to hand and it was important to use it to allow your partner to ruff a Heart. Ducking can be done either by defender or by declarer. On other occasions you can duck when you need an entry to a long suit, if you have no other entries to hand BUT you want to develop the long suit. See in this example:

You play 3NT and got a ♠Q lead. You have 6 sure tricks and must develop 3 more from the Clubs, but you must lose a Club trick and you have no other entry to dummy. So, Duck a Club. That move will develop the Clubs (you must hope for 3-2 split with opponents) and will keep communication between your hand and dummy. Win any return by your opponents and cash you Clubs.