“I’m Talkin’ to YOU!!” By Marti Ronemus
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Defense is the toughest part of the game. Most of us can stagger to a reasonable contract, even without the “help” of dozens of conventions and gadgets. Most of us can play a hand reasonably well… after all, we are looking at half the cards in the deck.
But defense, ah, defense. It’s not so easy, is it? Stick with us, and soon you’ll be reading through the back of your Pard’s cards.
Every card we play should say to Pard, “Pay attention. I’m talkin’ to YOU!”
And in today’s issue, we’re fortunate to have some practical guidance and help. We start with Matt Huberschwiller, our French Uber-player and writer, who provides both a quiz on opening leads and some hands. The lead quiz gives us some insights into choosing the Killer Lead against a suit contract.
The hands Matt has chosen work on a skill, unblocking a suit. Often what we are called on to do seems counter-productive, but learn it well! It sets contracts.
Next up is Paul Bowyer, one of Great Britain’s best-known teachers, lecturers and players. He will introduce us to the concept of the Frozen Suit, where whoever leads the suit loses. He also will focus on Passive Leads. If you don’t know what that is, you soon will. As you read through his hands, hear his voice… a very “smart” sounding English accent, and forgive him his spelling.
Also, David Bird weighs in with help in learning how to view the hand as a whole. David is one of bridge’s most prolific writers for a reason… we just can’t get enough of him. The hands are a wee bit subtle, but he will guide you through them. He shows how defense isn’t just following suit.
Finally, I’ve got a little warm-up hand for you. You’re going to play it twice, once from the point of view of the opening leader and the decisions you make. Then we’ll play it again, from third-hand’s point of view. We’re focusing on the “Hey, I’m talkin’ to YOU!” idea, where we send a signal with our lead for Pard. Then we will replay it, to see how we interpret Pard’s lead, and react appropriately. This will be fairly simple, but a great warm-up for what’s to come.
One fundamental key to defense is that no card should be played without carrying a “secret” message to Pard. On our journey together we will learn to Read the Lead. If we are sitting third hand, we, after seeing the lead, the dummy and our own hand, should be able to place every honor in the suit, and have a good sense of how many cards. What a message the opening lead sends!!
In third seat, if we don’t have to take the trick, we will tell Pard whether to continue the suit or not. And that’s just the beginning of what we can tell. We’re talkin’ to PARD… and he better darn right well be listening.
Enjoy and remember, we’re here for you every step of the way. Learn to defend and people won’t be so glad to see you arrive at their table.
* Paul's hands were already published in our early V-Green issues (2012) but the series are so good we think they're worth a "reprint" here.
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