Seeing through cards #31

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.

Oren Lidor
Seeing through cards with Oren Lidor

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 South. Answer the questions below and click the solution button when you’re ready to see how you’ve done.

Dealer East, North – South Vulnerable


Against 6 West led the ♠4. You may not like partner’s “scientific” 6 bid, but that was his bid. East covered your ♠9 with the ♠J.

  1. Will you win with the ♠A or should you hold up?
  2. You win with the ♠A. What next?
  3. You play AK and luckily the J dropped 2nd. You played 2 more Heart rounds. Where is the A? 
  4. You have 11 sure tricks. Where is the 12th trick coming from?
  5. What is the problem you face to win it?
  6. How will you play to solve the problem?

  1. Will you win with the ♠A or should you hold up?
    West’s lead is clearly a singleton (if he had xx, he would have led high-low and the bidding places 7 Spades with East). Therefore you must win the ♠A now to prevent a Spade ruff.

  2. You win with the ♠A. What next?
    Pull out trumps and hope to drop the J.

  3. You played AK and luckily the J dropped 2nd. You played 2 more Heart rounds. Where is the A?
    East’s preemptive shows 6-10 points. You already saw East with ♠KQJ and J. If he also had the A, he would have opened the bidding with 1♠. Therefore the A is with West.

  4. You have 11 sure tricks. Where is the 12th trick coming from?
    You need to develop a Diamond trick.

  5. What is the problem you face to win it?
    You only have 1 entry to dummy. So Even if you use this entry to play K (discard a Spade on it) and lose to the A, how will you reach dummy again to play your promoted Q?

  6. How will you play to solve the problem?
    Play the ♣A and then follow with a low Club to dummy’s ♣J. Continue with the K and throw your ♣K(!!) from hand on it. West will win the A but now he’s left with only minor cards and must play Club or Diamond to one of dummy’s queens. Throw your 2 Spade losers on the ♣Q and the Q and claim 12 tricks.

Things to remember


1) There could be an argument about N-S bids. However, there’s no real scientific answer here after East’s 3♠ pre-emptive: South is too strong for any direct bid. Also 4♠ cue bid (normally cue bid shows a 2 suiter hand), so Double (Big double) seem the right choice. A normal double shows tolerance to all other suits (with at least 3 cards), so what should North bid now? Also in this instance, Cue bid is not too helpful and will just raise the bidding, plus it might cause misunderstandings (if North bids 4♠ on South’s Double and South bids 5. What would the 6 bid be now?). North could also settle for a 5 bid instead of 6.

2) West’s lead is clearly a singleton as per the bidding and the lead (with doubleton, West would have led high – low and the ♠4 is clearly his lowest card.

3) Range of preemptive can be agreed. Some play more aggressive openings when Not Vul while playing more conservatively when Vul. Either way, 1st hand preemptive should not be over 10 points. With 11+ points, open 1 level bids. However, I recommend on the 3rd hand to open a “wide range preemptive” which could be from nothing (not vul) to opening, as partner was passed hand and we cannot lose bidding a makeable game. That bid will put pressure on 4th hand opponent, which is likely to hold some values.

4) A blockage happens when the higher cards are in the shorter hand. To overcome a blockage when lacking entries, you need to throw the blocking card. With the above hand you threw your ♣K to make sure that a Club return would be won in dummy. Other examples:



If you play AKQ, your 4th card in hand will block the suit. Try to discard a Diamond from hand on another suit to overcome the blockage.



You play 3NT on a Spade lead. Unfortunately this lead kills your only entry to hand, and as the Heart suit is blocked you’ll only be able to get 2 Heart tricks. Unless you can find a creative solution! Play ♠AKQ and throw your AK (!!) from dummy to unblock the suit. Now, you’re still in hand and can make your QJ109.

5)Sometime you have no communication with dummy and you use your opponent as a Bridge (“Stepping stone”) by losing a trick to him, thus making him play a suit you don’t have to let dummy win. This hand is a little different as you played from dummy and unblocked so that the return would be won in dummy.