Linda Lee — My personal bridge blog

My Favorite Book Ever: Chapter 6 Rodwell

Chapter 5 was very meaty.  It was full of wonderful new ideas.  I found myself thinking about declarer play a bit differently.  When my student failed to change her plan (as she should have) midway through a deal I thought “she should have restocked.”

Chapter 6 is on defense.  I enjoy card play but I admit that like most people I like to be in the driver’s seat as declarer.  Sometimes on defense I just don’t know what to do — there seem to be too many variables.  Chapter 6 introduces some defensive tactics although I can see that part 3 of the book starting at chapter 8 has defensive strategies, many of them dealing with communication so I am going to have to wait until the next section to get deeply into defense.

But I am not disappointed with Chapter 6.  There are interesting ideas from the very first page of the chapter starting with gouging.  Gouging involves leading or following suit with a high card which is unable to win the trick or promote anything but pins declarer in the wrong hand.  But I am going to talk about “middling” which I think is a very important concept.

Middling is an unblocking play where you lead the middle card of a suit through the opponent’s strong holding while retaining a high card as an entry for another lead through.  I have had some discussions with partner’s about the need to lead a high intermediate against notrump from a holding like K9x or A10x etc.  It can be a touch confusing but you really do have to unblock a lot of the time.  Of course it occurs during the play as well.  I think this section will give me a little bit of “cred” with my partners in future when I explain that we need to lead “middling”

Here is one of Eric’s examples:











Here you have to lead the 9 to take all of the spade tricks.  Leading the K and then the  9  will work too but only if you have another quick entry.  But leading small blocks the suit.

Of course I knew this before reading the book but naming the concept makes it easy to refer to and immediately brings to mind this situation.

There are always some extra goodies in everything Eric writes and the way he throws in ideas that he is thinking about during a hand.  For example, if partner knows you have some length in a guarded suit (say Qxxx) in a finessing position,  it may be important to let him know that you have a very empty suit (Q542) and don’t really have much of a guard by discarding one.  Of course, this must be done quite judiciously!

Here’s another partnership idea that was a bit beyond my previous thinking.   Suppose you are known to have the trump ace and believe partner might have the ace in your short suit.  Then if you cash the trump ace before leading your short suit partner knows you have a singleton BUT if you lead the short suit first then you have a doubleton and need the trump ace as an entry.  This allows partner to judge their play (rising or ducking) and according to Eric partner SHOULD play you for a doubleton if you don’t cash the trump ace first.  This seems like a good idea although not likely to come off often and I can only think of one or two partners who would work out that if I didn’t lead the trump ace then I must have a doubleton.  Now if I was playing with Jeff Meckstroth …

This morning Ray told me about a prominent bridge teacher who is a third of the way through The Rodwell Files.  He said he now considers it the best bridge book he has ever read.  By the end of Chapter 6 I am going to say that I agree with him.  This is not a book I will read once.  This is a book I will read many times.  It is also a book I want all of my partners to read.

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