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November 24, 2001
Never Give Up and The Five Level

Never Give Up

Playing with friends I recently picked up this hand and realized that it illustrated an excellent point.

South (me)
spade.gif (842 bytes)Q42
heart.gif (841 bytes)K85
diamond.gif (837 bytes)KJ987
club.gif (841 bytes)K6

As dealer I opened 1diamond.gif (837 bytes) and the auction proceeded:

West North East South
    1diamond.gif (837 bytes)
Pass 1heart.gif (841 bytes) Pass 1NT
Pass 3NT Pass Pass
Pass      

No I did not have a great hand, but it did add to 13 points by the length method and I had plenty of suit texture.

West led the spade.gif (842 bytes)6.

North
spade.gif (842 bytes)J103
heart.gif (841 bytes)Q1076
diamond.gif (837 bytes)A10
club.gif (841 bytes)AQ87
South (me)
spade.gif (842 bytes)Q42
heart.gif (841 bytes)K85
diamond.gif (837 bytes)KJ987
club.gif (841 bytes)K6

I played low from dummy and won the spade.gif (842 bytes)Q when East contributed the spade.gif (842 bytes)8.

The opening lead appeared to be from either spade.gif (842 bytes)AKx6 or spade.gif (842 bytes)AKx65, but in either case it looked as though the best line would be one that found nine tricks pretty quickly --- hopefully before letting the defenders back on lead.

With one spade already in hand and three top clubs available, diamonds was the suit. If I could take five diamond tricks the game would be mine. If not, then down one is good bridge right?

To preserve entries to the South hand and to avoid blocking the suit, I played a diamond to the diamond.gif (837 bytes)A and lead the diamond.gif (837 bytes)10 from dummy covering with the diamond.gif (837 bytes)J when East played low.

To my disappointment, West won the diamond.gif (837 bytes)Q and began cashing spades.

All things pointed to at least down one. Even if the spades were 4-3, the defenders were in a position to cash five tricks (3 spades, 1 diamond, and the heart.gif (841 bytes)A).

If spades started 5-2 then I was going down two.

In this situation I seen many lesser experienced players concede from frustration. "Iíll give you your spades and the heart.gif (841 bytes)A. Down one or two?"

Let me show you why this is a poor idea.

I got lucky and the spades started 4-3. Next, West was not sure what to lead after the he finished cashing those spades.

He chose a club (not unreasonable since Eastís only discard was the heart.gif (841 bytes)4).

This was all I needed to find nine tricks (the defense having cashed only four).

I won the club.gif (841 bytes)K in hand and cashed the remaining diamonds discarding all the hearts in the dummy. With three tricks to go this was my hand and dummy:

North
spade.gif (842 bytes)
heart.gif (841 bytes)
diamond.gif (837 bytes)
club.gif (841 bytes)AQ8
South (me)
spade.gif (842 bytes)
heart.gif (841 bytes)K8
diamond.gif (837 bytes)
club.gif (841 bytes)6

East started the hand with four clubs and the heart.gif (841 bytes)A. She had to find a discard from:

East
spade.gif (842 bytes)
heart.gif (841 bytes)A
diamond.gif (837 bytes)
club.gif (841 bytes)J52

If she discarded a club then the clubs would run. If she discarded the heart.gif (841 bytes)A then I would take two clubs and the heart.gif (841 bytes)K. Either way I got the last three tricks.

The complete hand:

North
spade.gif (842 bytes)J103
heart.gif (841 bytes)Q1076
diamond.gif (837 bytes)A10
West club.gif (841 bytes)AQ87 East
spade.gif (842 bytes)AK76 spade.gif (842 bytes)985
heart.gif (841 bytes)J9 heart.gif (841 bytes)A432
diamond.gif (837 bytes)Q643 diamond.gif (837 bytes)52
club.gif (841 bytes)943 South (me) club.gif (841 bytes)J1052
spade.gif (842 bytes)Q42
heart.gif (841 bytes)K85
diamond.gif (837 bytes)KJ987
club.gif (841 bytes)K6

The moral of the story? Never give up until the defense has cashed enough tricks to defeat you. Things are never as clear through their eyes. Just remember, never give up until they have taken the tricks to defeat you.

The Five Level

Sometimes the opponents push you around. Sometimes this means playing your contract at the five level when you would have preferred the four level. However, sometimes it makes you think. Sometimes it makes you stretch. Sometimes it makes you a better player. Playing matchpoint duplicate you are South and pick up:

South (you)
spade.gif (842 bytes)5
heart.gif (841 bytes)AK10863
diamond.gif (837 bytes)A63
club.gif (841 bytes)864

You open 1heart.gif (841 bytes) and the auction proceeds:

West North East South
    1heart.gif (841 bytes)
Pass 2club.gif (841 bytes) 3spade.gif (842 bytes) Pass
4spade.gif (842 bytes) 5heart.gif (841 bytes) Pass Pass
Pass      

West leads the spade.gif (842 bytes)A.

North
spade.gif (842 bytes)10
heart.gif (841 bytes)QJ74
diamond.gif (837 bytes)K42
club.gif (841 bytes)AQ972
South (you)
spade.gif (842 bytes)5
heart.gif (841 bytes)AK10863
diamond.gif (837 bytes)A63
club.gif (841 bytes)864

"Spade loser, diamond loser, and at least one club loser.", you count.

West leads the diamond five to the second trick. Clearly you must set up clubs to discard the diamond loser. Your play.

How did you attack clubs? Did you see that you always have a club loser irrespective of the location of the club.gif (841 bytes)K? Did you absolutely maximize your chances?

The proper play is to cash the club.gif (841 bytes)A first (before pulling trump to help with entries) and then return to the South hand and lead a small club towards the North hand (after pulling trump). This has the added advantage of picking up singleton club.gif (841 bytes)K with East and does not give up any holding when West holds the club.gif (841 bytes)K.

If you took a first round finesse of the club.gif (841 bytes)Q, sorry down one.

If you played the club.gif (841 bytes)A first then you take eleven tricks and made your contract.

Now the real question. How would you have played if you were in 4heart.gif (841 bytes) instead of 5heart.gif (841 bytes)? Would you have worked as hard to find that elusive overtrick?

The complete hand:

North
spade.gif (842 bytes)10
heart.gif (841 bytes)QJ74
diamond.gif (837 bytes)K42
West club.gif (841 bytes)AQ972 East
spade.gif (842 bytes)A732 spade.gif (842 bytes)KQJ9864
heart.gif (841 bytes)9 heart.gif (841 bytes)52
diamond.gif (837 bytes)Q1075 diamond.gif (837 bytes)J98
club.gif (841 bytes)J1053 South (me) club.gif (841 bytes)K
spade.gif (842 bytes)5
heart.gif (841 bytes)AK10863
diamond.gif (837 bytes)A63
club.gif (841 bytes)864

Thanks!
Gary King

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