home

Play low from dummy  

Billy Eisenberg ( USA )  

 

BILLY EISENBERG of Florida is a true bridge professional. Known as Billy the Kid, due to his youthful appearance, he is a former professional backgammon player (he won the World Backgammon Championship in 1974) but now spends his time playing, teaching, coaching and commenting about bridge. A WBF Grand Master and early member of the Dallas Aces, he won five Bermuda Bowls in the seventies with four different partners. In recent years he has diversified: he has coached some ACBL junior teams, as well as many national teams around the world including Israel , Panama , Venezuela and the Netherlands ; he is also one of the official VuGraph commentators for the WBF.

 

MOST declarers realize the advantage of playing low from dummy when the queen is led through a king at trick one. The ace is almost certainly over the king and by playing low once or twice from the dummy the ace may fall on the right, establishing the king as a trick.

However, there are also many other holdings where declarer can gain a full trick by playing low from dummy in situations that are not as well known.

 

MY first example is from the final stages of an international trial:

 

 

  North Dealer K J 8 5    

 

Game All

 Q 4

 

 

 

 

 K J 4 2

 

 

 

 

 A Q 7

 

 

 

 

 

N

 

 

10 9 6 4 2     A 7 3

 J 7

 

W                          E

 K 9 2

 10 6 5 3

 

 

 A Q 9 8 7

 10 2

 

 

 8 4

 

 

 

S

 

 

 

 

 Q

 

 

 

 

 A 10 8 6 5 3

 

 

 

 

 ---

 

 

 

 

 K J 9 6 5 3

 

 

                           

W

N

E

S

 

1NT

Pass

 21

Pass

2

Pass

   3♣2

Pass

3NT

Pass

 4♣3

Pass

5♣

Pass

 6♣4

 Pass

Pass

Pass

 

 

 

 

 

     1  transfer to hearts

2  game force

3  slam try

   4  we were behind at the time

 

 

When West led the five of diamonds (playing third and fifth leads) I immediately played low from dummy. Why? Why not play the jack, hoping that West had underled the queen?

Well, if West really had led away from the queen, East was going to have to make a pretty good play of the ten from A10 if he happened to hold that card. Most players would play the ace. Besides, there was a strong possibility that East held both the ace and the queen, in which case playing the jack from dummy would be no use at all.

All in all, I felt the percentages were very strongly in my favour and that to play low from dummy was the best way to build up a diamond trick for a spade discard.

As it happened East, fearing his partner might have led from 53 doubleton, played the queen. I ruffed, entered dummy with a club and played the king of diamonds, covered by the ace and ruffed.

Dummy was re-entered with a club, the spade discarded on the jack of diamonds and a heart conceded to make the slam. Had I played the jack from dummy at trick one I would have gone down in the slam.

 

HERE is another example where you can put tons of pressure on your right-hand opponent by playing a low card from dummy. In this deal you are playing Pairs:

 

  North Dealer K 7 5    

 

Love All

 A 7 4

 

 

 

 

 Q J 6

 

 

 

 

 A 8 7 4

 

 

 

 

 

N

 

 

J 6 4     3

 Q 9 3 2

 

W                          E

 J 10 6

           

 K 10 8 4

 

 

 A 9 7 3 2

 J 9

 

 

 Q 10 3 2

 

 

 

S

 

 

 

 

A Q 10 9 8 2

 

 

 

 

 K 8 5

 

 

 

 

 5

 

 

 

 

 K 6 5

 

 

                           

W

N

E

S

 

1♣

Pass

1♠

Pass

1NT

Pass

4♠

Pass Pass Pass

 


 



When West leads the four of diamonds (fourth highest) breathes there a declarer among us who would not put up an honour from dummy at trick one? The result of this play is that if East wins and does not return the suit (allowing South to discard and then discard again upon the established diamond honour) South will lose a trick in each suit outside trumps and make only ten tricks.

Now let's see what happens if South plays low from dummy at trick one. It is going to take a pretty brave East player to insert the nine and run the risk of losing to a singleton ten in declarer's hand, or possibly a doubleton ten if West's lead was from K84 originally.

Most East players will surely play the ace. This will enable South to make a routine loser-on-loser play in diamonds for the precious overtrick (South runs the queen discarding a club, and later discards a heart on the jack.)

The play also picks up a trick when East started with both the ace and the king but not the ten. Surely nobody (unless he has read this BOLS tip!) would insert an eight or nine from AK9x or AK8x when dummy played low. Right?

 

The next hand is also from Pairs play and again resulted in declarer managing an overtrick for a top score by making an 'unusual' play from dummy at trick one.

  West Dealer A 8 4    

 

Game All

 A 10 9

 

 

 

 

 A J 3

 

 

 

 

 K 9 7 5

 

 

 

 

 

N

 

 

K10     3

 K J 2

 

W                          E

 Q 7 6 5 4

 Q 10 6 2

 

 

 K 9 8 6 4

 Q J 8 4

 

 

 10 2

 

 

 

S

 

 

 

 

Q J  9 7 6 5 3

 

 

 

 

 8 3

 

 

 

 

 7

 

 

 

 

 A 5 3

 

 

                           

W

N

E

S

1♣

1NT

Pass

4♠

Pass 

Pass

Pass

 

On the two of diamonds lead, South played low from dummy, knowing full well that even if East won the trick cheaply the ace would always furnish a quick heart or club discard.

What was East to do? Play the eight? Would you? Maybe partner's lead was a singleton. Maybe partner had led from Qxx and declarer had 10x, in which case the trick might not come back. In the event, East rose with the king and made the good switch to a heart.

Declarer won in dummy, discarded a heart on the ace of diamonds, ruffed a heart and led the queen of spades which was covered. He then ran all his spades, squeezing West in the minors, with the jack of diamonds the threat card. That card would not have been a threat had South played the ace of diamonds at trick one because East would have been able to guard diamonds.

 

Perhaps the advantages of playing low from dummy when a small card is being led through a king can be most clearly seen by taking a look at the difficulties that are created for the defender sitting over dummy.

K 7 6    

 J 10 5 3

 

 

 A K J 8 4

 

 

10

 

 

 

N

 

 

 

 

 A J 5 4 3

 

W                          E

 9

 

 

 7 6 5

 

 

 J 8 5 3

S

W

N

E

 

 

1

Pass

1

Pass

2

 Pass

4

Pass Pass Pass

 

 West leads the two of spades and declarer plays low from dummy. As East, what do you play at trick one? 

Let's say you play the jack because declarer  may have:  

  9 8

K87642

  3

  A K 62

Too bad. Your partner has led a singleton and declarer actually held

 

  Q 10 9 8

KQ842

  -

  K Q 7 6

And partner is till wondering why you didn't give him an early ruff to defeat the contract easily.]

Now let's say you did play the ace in order to give your partner a ruff. This time your partner thinks that you have lost your mind,   because he has underled Q10x and holds the

 ace-queen of hearts, and the hand was beaten off the top if you had just cashed your two spade tricks.

So , to drive the opponents crazy and gain extra tricks by the cartload, my BOLS bridge tip is:-

 

Play low from dummy when it can't cost you a trick and is likely to cause third hand to make a grievous error.

home