JANUARY ALMANAC FOR DEFENDERS
And what a month, as we enter the Winter Doldrums, half-frozen. The excitement of the holidays is gone, and there’s nothing in sight but cold, early darkness, and events cancelled due to weather. Sigh. No wonder January has been named “Someday We’ll Laugh About This” month. Is that appropriate or what?
It has been said that the difference between tragedy and comedy is -- time. I can remember my father telling me, "Someday you'll laugh about this, so why not start now?" Such good advice, especially for bridge players.
And to have a whole month devoted to this philosophy! That gives us lots of time to practice keeping things in proportion. Number one on my list of Perfect Partner Characteristics is a sense of humor. They will need it and if they can start laughing right away, so much the better.
(And another thought: Our memories, being what they are, we better laugh now, as we’ll forget it in seven minutes anyway.)
Two other observances for January worthy of mention: in 1990, “The Simpsons” debuted on TV. Sometimes at bridge games, I feel I’ve wandered into an episode. How about you?
And finally, in 1957 the Wham-O Corp. rolled out (forgive the pun) the Frisbee.
So with all that in mind, let’s take advantage of our wonderful pastime which saves any month. We turn to our wonderful Vu-Bridge writers who are devoted to the cause of preventing us from being the ones laughed about.
DAVID BIRD helps us become a “cool” defender. Some ideas? Sometimes the best hand at the table isn’t the declarer, the importance of counting defensive tricks as well as declarer tricks, the need to defend the most popular contract 3NT with effectiveness, and the joy of taking advantage of declarer mistakes.
BEN NORTON gives us six hands all centered on third-hand play. We’ve said in Vu-Bridge many times that often the third card played in a hand of bridge is the most important. BEN helps answer the immortal question of whether third hand should play high? Low? He looks at the need to visualize Pard’s hand to decide if we can afford to play high. And sure to give us a secret laugh, how to trick declarers.
PAUL BOWYER brings us a set of boards he calls “Hold It!” With his signature British wit, he casts light on this subject. Here’s what he says: “This series of eight is all about timing. Essentially it's about when to take your tricks in defense and when to hold on to them. To tell you more would give the game away.”
MATTHIAS HUBERSCHWILLER has two quizzes for us. One on leads against a Partscore, and the other on leads against a Game.
Finally, as your “warm up” I’ve got two little hands, based on whether to play an active or passive defense.
So stay warm, and find lots to laugh about. We need it.
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