Mark Blumenthal

Bridge Tip # 3

At IMPs or total points on’t be don’t be greedy at the expense of making your contract.

Say you are are playing three no trump and need three tricks from a concealed five club suit in your hand that probably will produce enough tricks to make your contract given the expected breaks. Be willing to throw away potential overtricks by discarding one or two clubs in the hope that an opponent, seeing you do so, may throw potential stoppers allowing you to make the contract when it should have gone down.

In matchpoints this situation is more complicated. Are you in a game most pairs don’t figure to reach? In that case you should do the same as you would in IMPs. Does it appear that most pairs would reach four of a major making four? Then you have to play for an overtrick because even making exactly three notrump will probably give you a bad result anyway. Any time you are declarer   you should be heedful of similar considerations and as well. You should try to judge the contract in the same way. You should do this when you are defending also. As declarer,  consider how likely the field will be in  your contract and and play the hand accordingly. Say you reached four spades  on 21 high card points that is makable after a favorable opening lead . Play your contract as safely as possible. You may be jeapardizing 11 match points out of 12 trying to make an overtrick which will give you a zero if you go down. Contrarily, if you reach four spades on a four three fit and can see everybody is going to be in 3NT for +430, you should not be afraid to risk your contract trying for an overtrick  because you will get a very bad board anyway if you are +420 There is a story about Arthur  Robinson. He was playing with a very weak sponsor. They got to a bad grand slam. Seeing he had no play for seven he did the best he could. Robinson ducked the opening lead to set up a squeeze for down one. He succeeded in taking twelve tricks and got a decent result because many pairs had gone down in six.

1 Comment

Judy-Kay WolffDecember 15th, 2008 at 2:44 pm

Mark’s reference to Arthur Robinson brought a smile to my lips as I knew his ‘weak sponsor’ quite well. Living in Philadelphia, Norman and I were friendly with Arthur and often enjoyed his one-of-a-kind stories about Madame “E’ (which we will use to protect her legendary identity of yesteryear). Bridge was not her claim to fame — but rather her marriage which witnessed the merging of the families of two department store magnets. She was very nice — but somewhat strange. Madame “E” had a vast jewlery collection and I recall admiring a diamond ring she sported at lunch one day. “Oh,” she proudly offered. “This is a fake. I have everything ‘copied.’ The real ones are all in my safe.” I suppose she considered that a safety play!

Madame “E” frequently commuted between New York and Philadelphia, taking lessons from B. J. Becker and playing with Victor Mitchell — but most of her later bridge exploits were spent hiring Arthur Robinson whenever he wasn’t playing with Bobby Jordan. Arthur treated her kindly and was respectfully soft spoken at the table. She enjoyed having a drink (sometimes before an afternoon session) and certainly one or two more during dinner where she savored being seen in the company of this young, good-looking successful star.

Most oldtimers remember the famous slam hand. This must have occurred after dinner when the cocktails had made headway. Arthur was at his very best!

Madame “E” was on lead against 6NT with the ace and king of spades and did not double. After cashing the ace, she switched, allowing declarer to make his contract. When Arthur realized what happened, he didn’t bother to question why she didn’t double — but calmly asked her why she didn’t take the setting trick. She defended her decision by saying, “But, Arthur, you gave me the deuce.” Arthur thought a second or two and reasoned with her, saying — Madame “E” what if I only had the singleton deuce???” She pondered for a while and in an apologetic tone, said “You’re right!” (I think it was Arthur who needed the drinks — after the sessions!)

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