Being a Pessimist: The Avoidance Play

Enough bidding problems for the time being.  Let’s discuss a play problem.  We have had several articles in which our readers have been presented with a shaky, even hopeless, contract, and the issue was how to play the hand to maximize your chances.  The “big idea” of those articles was that you place the cards in defenders’ hands in the most favorable manner that would give you the best change — i.e., you put on your optimist’s hat.

This article presents the opposite.  How should you plan a hand that appears to be rock-solid?

Here is a hand which illustrates the point.  How would you play the following 3NT contract after the auction shown.



West leads the ♦10.  You play the ♦Q which wins.  How many sure tricks do you have once the ♣A is driven out?

I count 8:   2 clubs; 2 diamonds; one heart and 3 spades.   You need one more.

Knowing that you have to drive out the ♣A eventually, you lead a low club from dummy to the ♣Q, which holds.

You are playing matchpoints, and so you should be prepared to take reasonable risks to maximize overtricks.

How would you play the hand going forward to maximize your chance of overtricks that does not unduly risk the contract?   Click on the MORE button below for the answer. Continue reading “Being a Pessimist: The Avoidance Play”


Play it Safe

Many of you have probably heard of the notion of a “safety play.” In bridge, this is often a play that ENSURES making the contract, even on some wildly unlikely distributions, such as a 7-1 split in the defender’s hands. Take the following E/W hands from a recent CBA game in which Julie was playing.

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We safely landed in 3NT, and got a spade lead from LHO. Unfortunately, the ♠J got covered by the Q, so we only have only more spade stopper. Luckily, we should be able to take 2♠, 4♥, and 5♣ for a solid +460. With ten clubs between both hands, this should be no problem, as clubs will usually break 2-1 in the opponents’ hands. So, plan your play: After winning the spade lead, what will you play at Trick 2?

Continue reading “Play it Safe”