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Bridge – ever feel like the cards are against you?

Paul Mendelson

7 July 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.

Sometimes it may appear cards are ganging up on you, then it’s time to relish the challenge...

Computer-dealt hands are often considered to be suspect in some way, but there is no one behind the scenes trying to create difficulties. The fact is that playing cards only appear to be ganging up on you and, really, we just love the challenge of playing our incredibly difficult game.

This hand occurred in a recent game in the Saga Online Bridge Club.

Bridge game diagram 

Bridge game diagram

Remember that bad news is not so bad if it could be worse. Be careful that you do not allow misfortune to stalk you and then defeat you.

West led 4♠︎ against South’s 3NT contract and, holding only A♠︎, South decided to duck the first trick. East, holding what he felt would be the controlling card of the hand – A♦︎ – switched to K♥︎ and continued playing hearts until South won his ace. Unfortunately, when East later lost A♦︎, East still had a heart trick to cash, and South was one down.

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The problem lay at trick one. Playing the standard lead of fourth-highest, West’s 4♠︎ indicated only a four-card suit. Declarer can see both 2♠︎ and 3♠︎ in his hand and dummy, meaning that West could not have a lower – or fifth – card. Therefore, it was safe to win A♠︎ and lose A♦︎.

Three spade winners would be cashed by East and West, but then the rest of the tricks would belong to South, and the contract would be successfully fulfilled.

By ducking the first trick, South allowed East to attack another weak suit – hearts – having already lost a spade, and that proved fatal.

Ask yourself: is the lead that bad? Is there another suit that would worry me even more?

If you haven’t tried the Saga Online Bridge Club yet, please do. I’ll be there on many occasions, available to answer your questions and, together with my friendly team, arrange games, purely social or mildly competitive, suited perfectly to your level.

Article first published in Saga Magazine July 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

7 July 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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