Mistakes People Make by David Bakhshi
Declarer Play at Trick One
THIS NEW series has been prompted by Which Card to Play from Dummy? South is the declarer in 4™, and left-hand
recent requests. Several readers have noticed opponent leads the queen of spades.
that their partners have a tendency to make A typical choice faced by the declarer An assumption that can be made is that
mistakes which could be avoided, and I involves which of dummy’s cards should the opening leader does not hold the ace
have been enrolled to assist them in avoid- be played, and although it can be hard to of spades. It follows that there is no
ing such errors in the future! generalise, there are common mistakes advantage to covering with the king of
The first issue that I shall address revolves which can be avoided once you are aware spades. East will win with the ace of
around the decisions that are faced by the of what might go wrong. spades, and none of declarer’s remaining
declarer at trick one. On many deals, this is cards will be promoted. Declarer should
the most important trick, so it is wise to instead play low from the dummy. If East
decide on a plan before playing to the first The Opening Leader Leads has the singleton ace of spades, the king of
trick. However, even when this hurdle has a High (Honour) Card spades will be promoted. However, it is
been crossed, errors can still creep in. In more likely that the queen of spades will
this article, I shall attempt to deal with win the first trick, after which West will
some of the more common positions that Mistake No. 1: likely continue spades. Whether he plays a
can go awry, and look at ways to make sure ‘Cover an Honour with an Honour’ low spade, or a second high spade, dummy
that the declarer enjoys more success going should again play low. Again, there is no
forward. When the opening leader begins with a advantage in playing the king of spades,
high card, there will clearly be no problem while playing low might promote the ´K
Why is the First Trick so Important? if dummy cannot beat that card. However, if East has no choice but to win trick two
if dummy has a higher card, the declarer with the ´A.
The declarer often has an advantage over will have to decide whether or not it
the defenders when playing to the first should be played. A simple mistake to fix Mistake No. 2:
trick, since the opening leader has to make is the idea that you should ‘cover an ‘Failing to Protect a High Card’
a choice based on his thirteen cards (and honour with an honour’. This idea is often
the auction), while the declarer can make useful when playing as a defender and may Although you should not automatically
decisions based on both his cards and erroneously be applied by a declarer. How- cover an honour at trick one, there are
dummy’s. In many instances, the first trick ever, as a declarer, you can assess whether situations where it can be a mistake not to
also represents an opportunity to set goals there is any advantage to covering the beat the opening leader’s card. This can
or targets. This is especially true when opening lead. seem quite confusing, but knowing why a
playing duplicate pairs or teams, as the Consider Example A: play should be made is often the key to
declarer may be able to assess that his goal making the right decision.
is not the same as the trick target required ´K82 Consider Example B:
to fulfil his contract (being defeated by a W
trick can be better than having your oppo- S
nents bid and make a contract). ´765 N
Once again, South is the declarer in 4™.
West leads the jack of spades.
When it comes to winning tricks in the
spade suit, declarer’s play to the first trick
Free trial ´ Acol widely played is irrelevant, but it may be that dummy
has another suit which will be vulnerable
Special subscription rates for EBU members if attacked by West, but not by East.
Imagine that dummy also has ®K-5-4 and
Friendly & fun online club for all players declarer has ®9-8-6. If West wins trick one
with the jack of spades and then switches
18 English Bridge April 2013 www.ebu.co.uk