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0012 - Forgoing a Trump Finesse

Safety Play #001 – The term safety play is usually used to refer to the line of play that guarantees making the contract against any lie of defenders cards, but may sometimes refer to the line of play that gives the best chance of making the contract.

This deal (rotated) was played September 18, 2014 / Hilton Head BC.



This deal was analyzed by the GIB bridge software (used on BBO) and the contract of 5  was set, down one (-1). Is it possible to find a line of play to make 5  against any lie of defender's cards (the safety play)?

West's opening lead T1 is the  A and when East plays the  8 (suit preference) shifts to  6 ... before playing to diamonds, declarer (South) can count enough tricks (1-spade ruff + 4-hearts + 2-diamonds + 4-clubs = 11 tricks) if hearts are limited to just 1-loser.

Where T2 is won should be based on how declarer plans the play of hearts. So how should hearts be played? 

Holding three high honors  AQJ and 9-hearts, if hearts split 2-2 (41%) or 3-1 (50%) declarer should have no problems holding hearts to 1-loser. Even if the hearts split 4-0 (9%) everything is still OK if West (underneath the  AJ72) holds the four missing hearts  K1085. However if East holds the four missing hearts, making 5  needs some special care.

Danger, Will Robinson – There is an additional concern in this deal that should be setting of warning bells. If either defender holds 4-hearts, it is very, very, very dangerous to tap trumps (shorten trumps) in declarer's hand by trumping a diamond in the long suit just to provide transportation to take a finesse in trumps that might not succeed.

With the combination of protecting against East holding  K1085 plus the concerns of tapping trumps, declarer should plan on a single-suited safety play in hearts. On T2 win the  A in dummy (pitch club from declarer's hand).

Sure enough here is the lie of the hearts. 

There are two ways of playing hearts.

If you think East is the kind of player who will rise with the  K immediately, on T3 first lead the  2 with the plan on finessing the  9. The idea is if East does not rise with the  K then East probably has the  10. It would be hard for East to duck holding both honors K10xx.

If you don't think East will rise immediately with the  K, lead the  A on T3 to protect against a singleton heart honor in West.  Once West shows out of hearts, it is now easy enough to lead the  2 from dummy and if East does not play the  K cover with the  Q96 as required.

Here is the complete deal ...


To obtain a printable PDF file of this post click here " 20140918 0012

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