Nancy Evins: Bidding, declaring, defending...the only parts of the game

Nancy Evins • Updated May 20, 2018 at 2:00 PM

My caretaker’s 12-year-old granddaughter asked her if I was still writing about that game and wanted to know if I hadn’t run out of things to write about.

Bridge is both logical and mysterious. I logically ask myself how come I didn’t make all those overtricks others in the field did.

Today, I am going to give a question or two about each of the three basic parts of the game.

The first is what you lead back to your partner when defending a no-trump contract by your opponents.

Your partner has led the king of a suit. Your holdings in that suit are:

a. A J

b. A J x

c. A J x x

Even in a suit bid, you should in a. return the ace first and in b. again ace first and then jack.

Why? You are unblocking, and you assume and should be correct that your partner has led from king, queen. It is a general rule that you play the middle out of a three holding and the fourth out of a four.

But with two honors, you may get stuck in your own hand, so most players will play the jack on the c. 

I remember being on lead against two proficient players who also taught and directed games on cruise ships. I was holding A K J x x x against their three no-trump contract. I started out with the ace and then the king. My partner was playing small cards in that suit, and I figured that declarer must be holding the queen just to have gotten to that contract, but I went on and led my jack, and my partner put his queen on it and now held the lead. I now am losing three good tricks since he cannot get me back into the lead. You must drop your big card, called “unblocking.” I will never forget that though I know he wishes I would.

Now, here’s a question about bidding. Your partner has opened a major suit, and you bid two no-trump – Jacoby Modern – and he replies four clubs. I have heard many people, even teachers, say that any time four clubs was bid over the last call of any no-trump, it is Gerber asking for aces.

No, that’s no longer true. Partner is saying he has another five-card suit. Had he bid three clubs – or three of any suit – that would say he had a void or a singleton.

And now here’s one last example for declaring.

You are South playing three no-trump. West leads the seven of spades after the bidding had gone one diamond by North, one no-trump by South and three no-trump by North. 

North holds:

(S) A Q 10 2

(H) A K Q

(D) A 9 5 3

(C) 10 4

And South holds: 

(S) 8 5 3

(H) J 10 9 

(D) 6 3

(C) A 8 7 5 4

Which spade do you pick from dummy or do you finesse at all? If you are like me, you may have studied for several seconds, but the answer was there all along.

Seven from 11 is four. Remember the Rule of 11. You have three higher in dummy and one in hand, so East cannot have anything higher. You take the trick with the eight of spades in hand and set up all four-spade tricks.

Unless East-West tell you – or you look at their card to check leads and see they do lead fourth best – they do and then don’t. But I won’t tell my story about that again.

Nancy Evins, of Lebanon, is a certified bridge instructor. Email her at [email protected]


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