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Subj:.....Watson's Bridge Challenge #3, Chapters 15 to 17 (S551c) 

          From the book 
          "Watson the Play of the Hand at Bridge" 
          Published in 1959 by HarperResource

1. Chapter XV, Page 144 - Gaining Tricks By Refusing To Ruff

Your contract is four hearts, against which West opens the Spade King, holding the trick.  Your left-hand opponent continues with the Queen, and then the Ace.
On the third round you can ruff with a low heart, but before you do so, look over the situation and decide on a plan.
. 8 6 3
Q J 6
A K Q J 9
7 3
A K Q 10
9 8 5 2.
8 6.....
Q 10 2..
J 9 4 2
4 3
10 7 4
K J 9 5
7 5
A K 10 7
5 3 2
A 8 6 4

Never was the old proverb that you should look before you leap more true.  An immediate ruff of Spades can do you no good.  The only suits offering any number of tricks are hearts and diamonds.  You have only 1 other trick: the Club Ace.  You may discard some of your losing Clubs on the long Diamonds in the dummy, but the number is limited.  There are only two more Diamonds in dummy than your own hand, which means only two discards will be available.

If you ruff the Spade trick (which you will lose if you do not ruff), you must ultimately lose a club trick instead.  What if, instead of ruffing here, you throw off a Club?  Study the situation carefully.  If you trump, you will only have three trumps left in your hand and three in dummy's hand.  Before you run off your Diamonds, you will have to draw trumps.  If the adverse trumps break 3-3, you will be all right, but if they should break 4-2, you will find yourself exhausted of trumps while the opponents have one left.  When you start leading your Diamonds, the opponents (actually West) will ruff the third round and lead Clubs.  If this happens, not even a miracle can keep you from losing 3 Club tricks besides 1 more Spade trick.

Now consider refusing to trump.  Discard a low Club on the Spade Ace.  West is left in the lead.  If he leads another Spade, he cannot force you to ruff in your own hand, for you can trump with Dummy's Jack of Hearts and still retain your four trumps untouched.  West will probably lead a Club, which you will win with your Ace, then lead four rounds of Hearts, removing all the adverse trumps.  The rest of the tricks are then yours, for you have five good Diamonds.  Strange though it may seem, your refusal to ruff the third round of Spades actually saves you three tricks.


2. Chapter XV, Page 145 - Is Declarer Or Dummy The Dominate Hand?

West opens the Diamond King against your four Spades contract.  But as soon as West sees the Diamond strength in the dummy, he naturally shifts to something else for his second lead, realizing that declarer can very likely ruff a second round of Diamonds.  Suppose he now leads a Club (his best lead), which you win with your Ace.  Develope your strategy to make your contract.
. Q 10 3
A 7 5
Q J 10 9 4
8 5
7 6 2..
K J 9..
A K 8 3
K Q 10.
8 5
10 8 4 2
6 5 2
J 9 7 6
A K J 9 4
Q 6 3
A 4 3 2

Looking at the possibilities entirely from the standpoint of your own hand, things look rather dark.  You can give up a Club trick immediately, and thus make available 2 ruffing-tricks in the dummy.  You can hope East has the King of Hearts, so you can finesse against it for 2 Heart tricks.  But if West should have the Heart King, this mode of play will mean the loss of your contract by 1 trick.

There is another possibility.  Perhaps you can lead some of dummy's Diamonds in order to trump in your own hand, and eventually establish along-suit for discarding purposes.  But if you do this, you will sacrafice your ruffing-tricks in Clubs.  What should you do?  You can answer this question if you pretend, for the moment, that your hand is the dummy, and the dummy is declarer.

Looking at South's hand as though it were the Dummy, you see that you lead a low Spade to North's ten, and then lead out the Diamond Queen, on which you discard from South's hand a small club!  This gives up a trick which you do not have to lose, but it does more - it establishes 3 Diamond tricks in North's hand on which you can get rid of three losing cards from the South hand.

After West wins the trick with the Diamond Ace, he will probably lead another Club, thereby winning the third trick for his side.  His best play is to lead still another Club, which you ruff with the three of Spades.  You lead the Queen -  which you overtake in South's hand.  This leaves one trump outstanding.  You lead the King of Spades followed by a small Heart to the board.  Then run the Diamonds from the top.

(My thoughts) If West can see that Ace of Hearts as a key entry to the board, the lead of the King of Hearts (instead of the third Club) would make the hand a lot tougher.  South would have to hope that West still had two Hearts.


3. Chapter XVI, Page 153 - Another Exception To The Rule

You are playing a contract of four Hearts.  West's opening lead is the Spade King.  He follows on the second trick with the Spade Ace, which you trump in your hand.  You have left six trumps in your two hands and the opponents also have six.  When you lead out the Ace and King, the opponents follow both times.  This means that you have two trumps, and the opponents also have two - but the pair held by the opponents are both higher than your trumps.  Develope a plan and compare your answer to Watson's solution.
. 9 4 2
5 3
A K J 8 2
A Q 3
A K 7 6.
Q J 10 8
9 5.....
6 4 2...
Q J 10 8 3
4 2
10 7 6
10 9 8
A K 9 7 6
Q 4 3
K J 7 5

If you lead a third Heart, and the outstanding Queen and Jack are divided, you will drop them both and be left free to take the rest of the tricks, for you have all the top cards in Diamonds and Clubs and you still have a Heart to stem the run of adverse Spades.  But suppose the Queen and Jack of trumps are not divided.  If they are in one hand, the opponent who holds them will certainly lead the second Heart as soon as he wins with the first, eliminating trumps altogether.  You then have no protection against Spades, and you will have to throw away some of your good Diamonds or Clubs.

To lead another trump in the hope of dropping the last two high ones on the same trick is nothing but madness on this hand.  You have already lost 1 trick, and you can afford to lose 2 more.  All you have to do is lead Diamonds until at last West ruffs.  You then have two trumps to the opponents' one.  If West now leads a Spade, forcing you to ruff, you continue with the rest of your Diamonds and Clubs until West ruffs again.  As soon as this happens, the rest of the tricks are yours.


4. Chapter XVII - Elementary Defense Against No-Trump
   Page 168 - Choosing Between Two Long Suits To Lead

When you have a choice of opening lead, between two suits of some length, you should choose the longer suit except when the shorter suit offers an honor-
sequence length lead.  What should you lead in these two hands?
. No. 1 No. 2
K J 8 6
J 8 7 6 3
Q 5
10 3
Q J 10 9
Q 9 8 4 3
Q 5
10 3

Hand No. 1, the six of Hearts is a better opening lead than the six of Spades.

Hand No. 2, the Spade Queen is a better opening lead because it will develope tricks more quickly than the four of Hearts lead.


5. Chapter XVII - Elementary Defense Against No-Trump
   Page 168 - Choosing Between Two Long Suits To Lead

When the choice is between two plain length leads, the decision is more difficult.  As a general rule, the weaker of two four-card suits should be prefered, because this enables the stronger suit to be retained to furnish a possible entry.  What should you lead in each of these three hands?
. No. 1 No. 2 No. 3
A 10 3 2
K 9 3 2
J 5 2
10 3
K 10 6 4
Q 5
J 9 8 3
9 7 3
10 7 3
J 4
Q 9 7 3
10 7 6 4

Hand No. 1, lead the two of Hearts

Hand No. 2, lead the three of Diamonds

Hand No. 3, even of the two suits are weak,
lead the weaker suit (the four of Clubs).


6. Chapter XVII - Elementary Defense Against No-Trump
   Page 168 - Short-suit Sequence Lead:

The so-called short-suit sequence lead consists of the lead of the top card of a sequence from a three-card or shorter suit.  This lead has two objectives: 1. the hope that this particular suit will turn out to be partners long suit and that he will be able to develope it before the declarer can establish his suit; 2. the desire to avoid leading from tenace combinations since to do so may give the declarer tricks he would not otherwise make.  What should you lead in each of these seven hands?
No. 1 No. 2 No. 3 No. 4 No. 5 No. 6 No. 7
K J 8 5
J 10 3
Q 10 7 5
K J 8 5
Q J 2
Q 10 7 5
K J 8 5
10 9 2
Q 10 7 5
K J 8 5
Q 10 7 5
K J 2
K J 8 5
J 10
Q 10 7 5
K J 2
K J 8 5
10 9
Q 10 7 5
K J 2
K J 8 5
Q 10 7 5
K J 2

With no information from the bidding,

Hand No. 1, lead the Jack of Hearts

Hand No. 2, lead the Queen of Hearts

Hand No. 3, lead the ten of Hearts

Hand No. 4, lead the Queen of Hearts

Hand No. 5, lead the Jack of Hearts

Hand No. 6, lead the ten of Hearts

Hand No. 7, a lead from the King-Queen short suit
is not recommended, lead the five of diamonds.


Louis H. Watson's "The Play of the Hand at Bridge" is the definitive work on
how to play the hands in bridge.  It should be bought and read by all serious
bridge players.