If you have ever played a bridge team game, you will know that playing matchpoints and playing IMPS are two entirely different beasts. Many players consider it a different game entirely. There are endless arguments about whether MP or IMP scoring is a more “pure” form of bridge, and further, which is more fun! Personally, I prefer IMPs, but I imagine the bridge world is split about 50-50. Regardless of all that, we are relegated to matchpoint bridge at the club, and so this lesson is about Taking Our Tricks on defense.
Consider the following hand, and accompanying auction:
Here we are on lead after a simple auction by East/West. Generally, leading from small doubletons at matchpoints is not winning bridge, so a ♦ lead is out. Beyond that, we don’t want to solve the trump suit for declarer by leading a ♥. Particularly with a touching KQ and the ♣10 to boot, we have a pretty clear ♣ lead, and we can be confident that most other Souths will lead the same thing, which is good.
Once we lead the ♣K, the following dummy appears on our left:
Sometimes, declarers don’t want to take their Aces right away, for one reason or another. So, the ♣K hold Trick 1, partner following with the 2 (playing standard carding), and you are again on lead at trick 2…..What is your next lead? (Click on “read more” to continue)
Not sure what to play at Trick 2? Well some kind soul long ago made bridge a partnership game — it’s us against the world at the bridge table, so we may as well trust our partner! Playing standard carding, the ♣2 is HIGHLY discouraging. In fact, it is the MOST discouraging ♣ card in the whole deck! Given this, does it look like partner has the ♣J? No!!! Thus, if we play another club, we will give declarer a free trick he doesn’t deserve as declarer’s ♣J will be promoted if the ♣Q is played and if a low club is played, declarer can play low from the dummy and win the ♣J in hand. “Slopping” an overtrick is a deadly sin at matchpoints as it can change an average to a bottom.
So, what DO we play at Trick 2? The ♦A looks very safe, looking at dummy, and a ♠ is probably okay too. See the full hand below to note that declarer on a diamond or spade shift has to lose 2♣ tricks and 1♥ trick for +420 — giving them that extra trick for +450 can be a real killer to an otherwise great matchpoint session! Remember to rely on partner for help whenever possible – we are in this together at the bridge table. ☺
— Julie Arbit