Seeing through cards #39

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

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

Dealer North, All Vul


Against 4♠ (and after your highly optimistic bid!) West led the ♣Q and you won with the ♣A.

  1. How many losers do you have?
  2. Where is the A?
  3. Where is the K?
  4. What are your options to get rid of losers?
  5. How many entries to dummy do you need for your plan?
  6. Do you have these entries?
  7. What will you play at trick 2?
  8. How will you continue your play?

  1. How many losers do you have?
    If you’re lucky and trumps break 3-2, you’ll have 1 loser in Heart, 3 losers in Diamond and 1 loser in Club, totalling 5 losers (6 losers if Trumps are 4-1)

  2. Where’s the A?
    With East. East opened the bidding, showing 12+ points. So West has a maximum of 6 points. Amongst them are the ♣QJ from the ♣Q lead. So no room in West’s hand for the A (unless East opened with 11).

  3. Where’s the K?
    Likely with East, although there’s a possibility that West could have it.

  4. What are your options to get rid of losers?
    You need to finesse Twice, Diamond and Heart and hope that both finesses work out. In addition, you need to promote the 4th Diamond too. That way you will lose only 2 diamonds and Club.

  5. How many entries to dummy do you need for your plan?
    Two. As you need to play the finesses from dummy to hand.

  6. Do you have these entries?
    You have the ♣A but no other entry on the horizon. However, there’s a possible hidden entry: the 4th Diamond! And for that you need to hope that Diamonds also behave nicely (i.e. divide 3-2).

  7. What will you play at trick 2?
    Play Diamond to the K. If you play the Heart finesse now, you won’t have an entry to play Diamond to the K.

  8. How will you continue your play?
    If East plays the A at trick 2, follow with the 10 from hand and keep the 5. If East plays low, play your K (winning the trick), pull out ♠AKQ, and then continue with the 10, again saving your 5. Opponents will win the 2nd Diamond and continue with Clubs. Ruff the 3rd Club, and play the 9 as 3rd Diamond round, losing it to East. Ruff 4th Club next with your last trump, enter dummy via your 5 to dummy’s 6 and finesse Heart to the Q. The A is the last trick.

Things to remember


a) 1 level overcall shows 9-16 points. With more – Double 1st and on the next round bid your suit. That means you have a BIG Double hand (a SUPER overcall, showing an overcall hand with 17-20 points).

b) North’s 1st bid was 1, which shows 0-8 points responding to a Take Out Double. With 9-11 North would’ve jumped to 2 and with 12+ they would’ve bid 2♣ (cue bid) or bid 3NT with good Club holding.

c) After the 1♠ rebid, North’s 2♠ is ok, showing pretty much what they had. With more, North could bid 3♠, and with their maximum (about 8 points) North could’ve bid 4♠. Therefore, South’s 4♠ bid is a “bit” pushy and needed a lot of luck with a good Spade and Diamond split (along with 2 successful finesses).

d) Hidden entry: Many times, low cards can be used as entries. Make sure to keep low cards (like the 5 in this example) so they can be used to enter the other hand.

e) Timing! Timing refers to the right order in which to play your tricks. After you realized you needed 2 finesses, it was important to start with the Diamond finesse straight away to give yourself the chance for a Heart finesse later on. It doesn’t work the other way around. If you start with Heart finesse and pull trumps, you’ll go down, as now you need to play Diamonds from hand and will lose 3 Diamond tricks (opponents will play Club whenever they get a Diamond trick).

1) Duck is a useful tool in play. Sometimes you duck to keep trump control or to keep option to ruff in dummy when dummy’s trumps are short. 2) Counting losers is done from 1 hand, normally the long trump hand. So here you need to count at least 2 Heart losers, 1 Club loser and ALSO 1 Diamond loser. To not lose the 4th Diamond you need either Diamonds to be 3-3, or make sure you manage to ruff your 4th Diamond in dummy.