~Play of the Hand #1

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In his book, How to Play a Bridge Hand, Bill Root discusses how to play this hand
North
S 32
H T54
D AK8753
C 86

South
S AK
H A863
D 42
C AK743
This bridge problem follows his discussion on choosing the percentage play and preserving or creating entries in dummy. South is declarer at 3NT.

After a spade lead, declarer must decide how to win the 8th and 9th tricks. With eight diamonds in the two hands and only seven clubs, the odds favor playing the diamonds. Diamonds will split 3-2 68% of the time and clubs will split 3-3 36% of the time. So, the correct strategy is to attack diamonds. Now a second playing problem must be addressed–how to both set up the diamond suit and to get back to dummy to take the diamond tricks. The correct play is to lead a low diamond from the South hand and duck in dummy. If diamonds split 3-2, you can win the return and play diamonds again. The A & K of diamonds will establish the diamond suit and you will win 10 tricks. In the example hand, diamonds split 4-1, there is no side-suit entry to diamonds, and the opponents establish their tricks soonest. Also, in the example hand, clubs split 3-3, and you could make the contract by playing clubs instead of diamonds. Mr. Root comments that if you made the contract, “you need bridge lessons badly.”

In the second hand, the heart A is in dummy and the heart T is in the South hand. Now the strategy is different. You can try the diamonds, and if you find a 4-1 diamond split with diamond length in the East hand, you can then try the club suit. Since you must lose one club trick even with a 3-3 club split and have only one entry in dummy, you must play the A & K of diamonds as your first two diamond plays. Then if diamonds split 3-2, you lead a third diamond to establish the suit while you still have a heart entry. If diamonds split 4-1 and clubs split 3-3, you will take 9 tricks.

It’s all in the details. Do we have the patience to think through our game plan before we play to the opening lead?

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