Bridge: the best counter to an attack on a fragile suit is to create a blockage
Roula Khalaf, Editor of the FT, selects her favourite stories in this weekly newsletter.
The success of so many no-trump contracts relies on analysis of the lead, placing cards in opponents’ hands, and assessing which opponent proffers the greater threat — and why . . .
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The key to success here will be to give yourself the best chance of surviving the attack on spades. When you take the diamond finesse, you will be risking losing into the West hand — the opponent with the long spade suit. If West has led from a suit headed by king-queen then, obviously, you should play low from dummy, but it is far more likely that West has led from a suit headed by an honour, plus the nine or ten. If you make the sensible assumption that West holds a 5-card spade suit, then what does that leave East? A doubleton spade honour. So, you should rise with A♠ at trick 1, and block the spade suit.
If East throws K♠ — as he probably should — when West gains the lead with K♦, he can only cash Q♠, before your J♠ becomes good. If East plays low under dummy’s A♠, when West gains the lead and plays a spade, East wins and has no more spades to lead. Play any other spade from dummy at trick 1, and you go down . . . When playing in no-trumps, trying to protect a suit, if you suspect that an opponent holds a doubleton honour, consider rising with the ace immediately.
Read Paul’s previous Bridge columns at ft.com/bridge-card-game