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Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Doug Doub on Defense - by Jim Kaplan

Doug Doub is a leading player and teacher from the Hartford area. We were glad to have him on hand for a lesson at the Western Massachusetts Bridge Association meeting/annual tournament on November 6 in Northampton.

Doub had some years on him, but with his cherubic, rosy-cheeked countenance and joyous manner he resembles nothing so much as a choirboy singing a favored hymn. His subject was honors play on defense: a topic I’d rarely read or heard about. Doub said there are four types of recommended honors play: taking tricks, promoting winners, unblocking, and disrupting opponents’ communication.

He took issue with the constant refrain: “Cover an honor with an honor.” Let’s say you see dummy with these trump cards in a spade contract:

S Q J 9
Sitting over dummy you hold:
             S K 5 
Declarer leads the spade queen. Should you cover?
No! If you do, declarer can finesse for the 10. Wait until the second of touching honors to play your king. You may be promoting partner’s 10.

Your opponents are playing a 3NT contract. You’ve led the heart ace.

        S A 8
        H 6 5 
        D 10 9 4 
        C K Q J 10 4 2

S K 7 3
H A K 7
D 8 7 5 3
C A 5 3

What do you lead?
A high heart. Then the spade king. Once you’ve eliminated declarer’s ace, there’s no way to run the clubs. You have disrupted opponents’ communication. This example also says something about taking tricks. With weak diamonds, a fourth-best lead in that suit may be fruitless. Lead the heart ace and see if partner encourages.

 South   West   North   East
 1S      Pass   1NT     Pass
 2D      Pass   2S      All Pass

Sitting West, partner leads a heart to the king. Here are the dummy and East hands:

  S 9 2
  H A K J 2
  D 10 6 3
  C J 5 4 2

          S K 5
          H 10 7 6
          D Q 9 8 5
          C Q 10 8 6

Declarer leads the spade 9. What do you play?

The spade king! Chances are, partner has four spades, let’s say the queen, 10, 8 and 3. By playing the king, you’re unblocking the suit and setting up partner to take tricks.

Amazing stuff. After the lesson Doub proved his playing credentials by finishing first North-South with partner Judy Hyde.

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