Seeing through cards #37

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

Dealer North, All Vulnerable

Against 6 West led the 10. East followed with the 3 when you played low from dummy and you won with the K.

  1. How many losers do you have?
  2. What are your options to get rid of at least 1 loser?
  3. You started with the trumps, playing 3 rounds after they broke 3-1. Now what? Which suit will you play 1st ?  Which 2nd ? Which do you keep to the end?
  4. How will you play?

  1. How many losers do you have?
    You have 2 Spade losers.

  2. What are your options to get rid of at least 1 loser?
    You can try the Spade finesse (if ♠A is in East you can manage to promote your ♠K by playing spade to the ♠K) or hope for Clubs to be 3-3 (then you can discard a Spade on 4th Club) or try to promote the 4th Diamond

  3. You started with the trumps, playing 3 rounds after they broke 3-1. Now what? Which suit will you play 1st? Which 2nd? Which do you keep to the end?
    You keep the Spade play to the end, as last option, as if the Spade finesse fails you’ll lose 2 spades and go down immediately. You can test the Clubs and the Diamonds first, as playing them won’t result in you losing a trick. The possibility to promote the 4th Diamond (the 10, hoping to drop QJX) needs entries: to ruff the 3rd Diamond and to get to the 4th, if indeed the 10 got promoted. Therefore, start with the Diamonds as you need the Clubs as entries. If you don’t manage to promote the 10, test the Clubs, to see if they are 3-3. If that doesn’t work either – then you can try the Spade finesse as the last option.

  4. How will you play?
    After pulling the trumps, play AK (West followed with the J to your 2nd Diamond round), then Club to the ♣A. Ruff 3rd Diamond, and as West followed with the Q – it’s over: your 10 is now promoted as your 12th trick and you can enter dummy again with a Club and discard a Spade loser on the 10. You can also test Clubs, and if they’re 3-3, you can discard another Spade on the 4th Club and make 13 tricks. But Clubs are 4-2 so you make 12 tricks.

Things to remember

  • Best to agree that after a fit is established, 4NT is asking aces. If South bids 4NT straight after North’s 1NT rebid or if North’s response is not 2, then 4NT is quantity (min/max, slam invite).
  • Another possible agreement is to use a direct 3 rebid by responder as slam invite, asking opener to show controls (to those who play XYZ, it’s in the system – they have a 2♣ bid for all inviting hands). If there’s no agreement, then 3 rebid by responder shows 10-11 points, game invite.
  • After 1NT rebid by opener, a new minor suit by responder is called “new minor forcing”, and artificial forcing bid, mainly to find a possible 5-3 fit in responder’s major. This bid shows 11+ points and is 1 round forcing (there are other situations where new minor is game forcing).
  • Which suit to play first, which last and which in the middle. Conclusions:
  • 1) If you see that a finesse, which fails, will set the contract – leave it as last option.

    2) If there’s a choice between IMPASS (normal finesse) and EXPASS (playing to a card), choose EXPASS first. If it fails, you can still test the impass. You can’t do it the other way around.

    3) You can start by checking splits that won’t cause losing the hand, like 3-3, to allow you to discard a loser on your 4th promoted trick

    4) Also, check the possibility of promoting a trick via ruff (again, without losing the hand) like testing the Diamonds in this hand – if that possibility exists – start with it, as you might need entries for the process.