Playing Intermediates #005 – What makes the play on this deal special is not some bedazzling card play (cardplay) technique, but that the play (other than by a 10 year old) focuses on fundamental cardplay techniques. Often, very often, taking care of the fundamentals is all that is required.
This deal (rotated) was played by Emma Knight of Hilton Head Junior Bridge HHJB with Fred Ferguson August 23, 2014 / Hilton Head Island BC.
There is nothing special about the auction 2 ♠ is a reasonable contract - 2 ♠ was played 6/9 times the deal was played.
Upon first review, the side suits seem well situated supporting ♥ KQ and ♦ KQ with respective shortness and solid values ♣ AKQ in clubs. The trumps (spades) seem to be missing a few honors, but the intermediate ♠ 10 and ♠ 9 do give some values to base the play.
So how should Emma play this deal?
One of the first cardplay techniques players learn is the finesse. The opening lead variant (which some players never learn) is that it is almost always right to let the opening lead come all the way around to declarer's hand and thus, finessing the opening leader and forcing his partner to make an attempt at winning the trick. We call this opening lead finesse the Don Buchanan rule (doesn't everybody have a rule). So Emma (after careful consideration) dutifully ducks the opening lead T1 in dummy with the ♦ 3 and wins in hand with the ♦ Q. Follow the play ...
Now, the play that really sets the theme of this deal (and amazed me, as I watched the play of this hand unfold), on T2 Emma leads the ♠ 2 to the ♠ 9 retaining the ♠ A so as not to lose control of the hand. WOW, what an experienced play.
West wins the ♠ J and on T3 leads a heart and again, Emma ducks from declarer's hand taking the finesse letting the play go around to dummy's ♥ K (the opening lead finesse only in reverse). East wins the ♥ A anxious to return the ♦ 10 T4 through dummy's ♦ K. When Emma wins T5 with the ♣ A in hand (keeping an entry in each hand in clubs) everything is almost over ... on T6 Emma now leads a small spade to the ♠ A leading up to honors dropping the ♠ K. And with the opponents now having the singular boss-trump, Emma ignores trumps, knowing the opponents can now win their last remaining trump anytime they want, and on T7 trumps a diamond (dropping the ♦ A), and plays out her winners.
One subtle feature in the play of this deal, but very IMPORTANT, every trick played was on target ... there was no busy work of cashing club winners, etc. Great job Emma!
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