Linda Lee — My personal bridge blog

Playing in a pickup game

I like to go onto BBO and play a few hands in a pickup game.  It doesn’t matter who the other three people at the table are.  I like to see what I can do with the deals and watch how other people play.  I think it helps me to learn about players habits and the kinds of mistakes people make. 

One of the things that I have noticed is that most players are better at bidding than at playing hands.  This was a bit of a surprise.  When I grew up in the 60’s the opposite was true.  I suppose bidding methods are more sophisticated now and even new players quickly develop all sorts of tools to get to the right contract. 

I notice that at the beginning of hands declarer often doesn’t seem to have a plan.  Here is a simple hand from a recent BBO session.  You are playing in 6D with no opposition bidding.

  S AQ10  
  H A42  
  D QJ972  
  C J10  
  S 654  
  H Q5  
  D AK108  
  C AKQ7  

North arrived in 6D after a very economical auction 1D-3D(forcing)-6D


The opening lead was the HJ how would you play the hand and how did North go wrong at our table? 

If trump are 2 no worse than 3-1 this hand has twelve top tricks.  You draw trump and then play four rounds of clubs throwing two spades from our hand – the SQ and the S10.  Then you concede a heart and ruff a heart in dummy.  You probably might as well try the HQ at trick one and if it holds you have an overtrick.  That’s it – just count your twelve tricks and you are a winner!  Now how did declarer go wrong?  North thought that he had a 75% chance of making the hand if he took two spade finesses and a fifty percent chance of making seven.  He threw his hearts away on the high clubs and then took two spade finesses.  He had just turned a 100% chance of making the hand into a 75% chance and today the 1-3 odds paid off for the defence.

As it turns out on the actual hand the declarer could have made the hand after throwing hearts from his hand since diamonds are 2-2 but that hardly matters.  (Declarer ruffs dummy’s H5 crosses to dummy with a trump and finesses the S10 endplaying East.)

Being the friendly person I am when asked about the hand I just said "unlucky".  It does make you realize why sometimes poorer pairs win or good teams lose to poor teams.  Seventy-five percent of the time North will make 6D and get a good result!  That is upsetting.  Bridge really ought to have style points.

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