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Avoid reflex plays

In all departments of bridge, it is a mistake to make the reflex play thoughtlessly. In defence, try to work out what is going on. Ask yourself what has partner led from, and therefore what declarer holds in the suit. 


East Deals
None Vul
♠ A 10 6
10 5
A 9 8 7 3
♣ 7 6 3
♠ Q 9 7
A Q 9 8 3

♣ J 8 5 4 2
W   E
♠ J 8 5 4 2
K 4
6 4
♣ A K 10 9
  ♠ K 3
J 7 6 2
K Q J 10 5 2
♣ Q
West North East South
    1 ♠ 2
2 4 Pass 5
Pass Pass Pass
5 by South


West led ♠7, declarer played low from dummy, and East….. East had already made the reflex “third hand high” play of ♠J. Declarer won ♠K, drew East’s trumps finishing in hand, and played ♠3 to West’s ♠9 and dummy’s ♠10. When it held the trick, he was able to discard ♣Q on ♠A. He just lost two ♥s - trumping his third and fourth ♥s in dummy.

If East had not played ♠J at trick one, the contract would have gone one down. Could he have worked out to play low? The answer is an emphatic yes! West could not have both ♠K and ♠Q - or he would have led ♠K. There is no other holding where it could gain East to play ♠J, and plenty where it would lose heavily. Like the actual hand!

ANDREW’S TIP: Think before making the reflex play. When defending, work out partner’s possible holdings in the suit he has led.


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