Pairs Tactics by Andrew Robson
Don’t Lose Focus after a Poor Start
DON’T LOSE focus after an unfortunate One of the most useful recent innovations of spades marks him with the queen. That’s
start to the defence. You and partner are not to make defenders’ lives easier is the suit- 11 points. There is no room for him to have
mad. Doubtless what you did that worked preference signal in trumps. It’s simple to the ace of clubs.
poorly, done with the best of intentions, will play and, because it happens on every trump With partner marked with the ace of
be replicated elsewhere. Do not lose focus – contract, very, very frequent – highly recom- clubs, there is a good chance of four club
there is a big difference between a 40% score mended therefore. Here, East’s low trump is tricks. You win the ace of spades and,
and a bottom. (assuming he has more than one!) showing a catering for partner holding ®A-9-7-x (the
Take our first deal: card in the lower-ranking suit of interest (i.e. least you need to secure all four tricks), you
diamonds over spades). You muster up the switch to the jack of clubs (key play).
E/W Game. Dealer South.
courage to switch to a low diamond away Declarer is stuffed. If he plays low in
´ 9753 from your ace-queen (key play). Partner dummy, the jack wins, followed by the king
™ J 10 9 5 3 wins with the king and fires through the and a third club, partner holding ®A-9 over
t 53 eight of spades. You beat the ten with the ®Q-8. If declarer covers the jack of clubs
® J3 queen, cash the ace and lead a third spade for with dummy’s queen, partner wins with the
´ AQ42 ´ 86 partner to ruff. Down one. ace and returns a low club to the ten and
™ A7 N ™ 82 your king, partner now holding ®9-7 over
t AQ2 S t K9764 The second deal I will present as a real-life ®8-3. Down one.
® Q985 ® 10 7 4 2 scenario – i.e. you as West don’t get to see the The full deal was:
´ K J 10 two hidden hands.
t J 10 8
® AK6 Game All. Dealer South.
t 10 2
West North East South ™AKQ2
´ A95 ´ 842
1™ t 10 2
™ 10 8 3 N ™ 975
Dble 3™1 Pass Pass ®Q832 W E
t J984 t 763
Pass2 ´ A95 S
® KJ6 ® A974
™ 10 8 3 N
1 Preemptive after a double (2NT would ´ Q 10 7 3
show a good raise to 3™ – or higher). t J984 W E
S ™ J64
2 Reluctantly, but (a) you are vulnerable t AKQ5
and (b) your second double would also ® 10 5
be take-out and your hand is fairly
defensive. Your best guess would be West North East South
that 3™ might go down a trick – as 1NT1 Note that actually your diamond lead
might a higher contract which partner Pass 2® Pass 2´ worked really well, for when dummy’s ten
would likely bid if you doubled again. Pass 3NT All Pass won the first trick, it gave you a virtual
1 12-14 blueprint of the whereabouts of all the
As West, you toy with the lead of the ace of high cards by trick two. On, say, a heart
trumps, to have a look at dummy, but decide You have read recent treatises that leading opening lead followed by the king of
that relinquishing it so early feels wrong. You from broken four-card minors is not a big spades, you’d have little clue that you could
opt for a small club. winner in such situations (often giving away win four club tricks. At pairs, you’d
You soon regret your choice, for dummy’s a trick with little length to compensate), but probably play safe, for fear of giving away
jack wins the first trick and declarer then nonetheless decide to ‘go with the room’ and unnecessary overtricks: you’d probably
hurriedly crosses to the ace-king of the suit lead the four of diamonds. You soon regret it duck a spade or two, perhaps to receive a
and sheds a diamond from dummy. Rats. At when dummy’s ten wins the first trick. At suit preference signal within the spade suit
trick four declarer leads a low trump. You trick two declarer leads dummy’s king of as to which minor partner held best. And
irritably play second-hand low and… spades. You huffily let this win and . . . now it’d be too late.
And you’ve blown it. Declarer would not And you’ve blown it. Declarer runs for To be fair, this month’s tip does apply
be playing trumps this way if he held, for home now, cashing four hearts and three equally to other forms of bridge apart from
example, K-x-x-x. Rising with the ace will more diamonds. Nine tricks and game made. pairs, but it is especially easy to lose focus at
only cost if partner has a singleton king – Think! As soon as dummy’s ten of pairs when you have blown a trick, thinking
unlikely. So you rise with the ace, partner diamonds wins the first trick, declarer is that you’re now bound to get a poor score.
following with the two. Now what? marked with tA-K-Q. His play of the king As we’ve seen, you’re not. r
www.ebu.co.uk June 2013 English Bridge 5