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Bridge – Avoiding fast play

Paul Mendelson

5 October 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.

Fast play is a sure sign of poor performance, and even just a little thought can transform your results...

Pity poor South. West led AK and another. Dummy’s J won the third round, and declarer pitched a low club. He tried cashing A and leading a low heart to his 10 – this lost to West’s Q. Later, he misguessed the position of Q♣︎ and ended up one down. At a live game, everyone would now generously agree how unlucky he was, and offer him a biscuit.

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Hands where there are more than one suit in which to guess the position of missing cards occur quite frequently. The best solution is often to spurn one guess and, in doing so, force your opponents into solving the second guess for you.

Here, the declarer should refuse to take a trump finesse but, instead, cash A and K.

If Q drops, all is well and if, as here, it does not, declarer is still in a strong position. He cashes ♠︎AKQ and then gets off lead with a trump.

Whoever wins Q – here, West – is endplayed.

Bridge game diagram

Bridge game diagram

If she leads a club, declarer no longer has a guess to make; if West leads anything else, South can ruff in dummy and discard a second club from hand, completely obviating any need to risk a guess in either hearts or clubs.

Of course, if your guessing is better than your bridge, you can just play the hand kitchen bridge-style – but that wouldn’t be any fun, would it?

There is a wide variety of friendly players online at the Saga 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, this autumn we will have seminars to improve your bidding, play and defence, as well as entertaining and challenging events for all levels.

Article first published in Saga Magazine October 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

5 October 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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