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Bridge – Declarer tips

Paul Mendelson

8 September 2021


Paul Mendelson heads up our Saga Bridge Club team and is the author of over a dozen books on bridge. He has coached at all levels, from complete beginners to national team players, and has helped tens of thousands of players to improve their bridge, and most importantly, to enjoy this amazing game even more.

As declarer, when your contract seems cold, it is tempting to switch off. But stay focused...

North-South did well to press on to 5C but, when West led two top hearts, South trumped and hurriedly drew three rounds of trumps. Then, he laid down AK.

When East showed out, only now did he stop to think: without a trump left in hand, he could not push out J and get back to play his other diamond winners. When the spade finesse failed too, South was down, and pushed the cards away feeling that he could have done much better.

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It is against the odds for both clubs and diamonds to split nicely so declarer should be alert to possible problems. Here, once clubs have split well, declarer should guard against a bad diamond division with a simple entry-maintaining play. In dummy after the third round of trumps, declarer should lead 9 and, when East follows low, he should play low also.

If the finesse against J is successful, declarer is home. If, as here, it loses, West will win and switch to a spade but, now, South can rise with A♣, and lead 5 to hand. On the four further diamond winners, declarer can throw four spades from dummy, ruffing his last spade with dummy’s last trump. 5C is then made: five diamond tricks, one spade, three trump tricks and a ruff in each hand.

Bridge game diagram

Bridge game diagram

There is a wide variety of friendly players online at the Saga Online Bridge Club. One of my team of hosts can match you with a player of similar experience, for a fun game at any of our sessions.

As well as supervised play and gentle duplicate, we have online seminars, with more lessons and events planned for the future.

I will be available to answer your questions and, together with my team, arrange games, purely social or mildly competitive, suited perfectly to your level.

Article first published in Saga Magazine September 2021.

Image © Shutterstock

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.

Paul Mendelson

8 September 2021


Paul Mendelson heads up our Saga Bridge Club team and is the author of over a dozen books on bridge. He has coached at all levels, from complete beginners to national team players, and has helped tens of thousands of players to improve their bridge, and most importantly, to enjoy this amazing game even more.

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