Take All Your Chances


kantarbridge.com

There are many hands where more than one line of play exists to make your contract. If you select the best percentage line your chance of making the hand increases, but if you don’t……. But why take the worst of it? The idea is to take the line of play, which if it doesn’t work, still allows you to take the other line, and there ever may even be a third line! This is called ‘staying alive’. In so many words, avoid putting all of your eggs in one basket!

North
♠ A Q 4
A Q
J 9 8 3 2
♣ 7 3 2
South
♠ K 8
5 4 2
A 6 4
♣ A Q J 10 4

You decide to treat your hand as worth 15 points (look at those clubs) and open 1NT. Partner raises you to 3NT and you wind up playing the hand from the wrong side. Hopefully partner won’t count your points.

West leads the J. You try the queen, but no luck East wins and returns the 8 to dummy’s ace. You lead a club to the queen and it wins. Plan the play from here.

You need five clubs tricks to make the contract and it looks like East has the needed king. One possibility is to cash three spades discarding a diamond and repeat the club finesse. If East has Kx or Kxx you score five club tricks or 10 tricks in all.

But what if East has four clubs headed by the king? In that case you will need two additional dummy entries to take two more club finesses. The safe way to take five club tricks is to overtake the ♠K, take a second club finesse, and assuming if West shows out, cross to the ♠Q and take a third club finesse. You wind up with nine tricks (and a grateful partner). Five clubs, two spades and two red aces.

This hand is one of many that illustrate the difference between IMP and matchpoint play of the hand strategy. At IMPs you don’t worry that much about overtricks because your primary concern is making your contract with minimum risk.

At matchpoints you often risk the contract for the sake of an overtrick (or two) providing the odds favor the risk. In this case the odds favor the risk. It is far more likely that East has two or three clubs headed by the king than four clubs headed by the king. At matchpoints, cash three spades and repeat the club finesse one last time.

♠ A Q 4
A Q
J 9 8 3 2
♣ 7 3 2
♠ J 6 5 3 2 ♠ 10 9 7
J 10 9 7 3 K 8 6
Q 5 K 10 7
♣ 6 ♣ K 9 8 5
♠ K 8
5 4 2
A 6 4
♣ A Q J 10 4
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