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Defense hands (?) Query

#1 User is offline   Lesh18 

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Posted 2012-April-09, 06:07

Hi all

I have been wondering, what exactly "third hand high", "second hand low" and "splitting honors" rules mean. Do they relate to the very first trick played in the play, the one started by the opening leader? Or do they relate to any trick played? How do they exactly work, and, especially, why?

Thanks
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#2 User is offline   jillybean 

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Posted 2012-April-09, 07:42

Hi Lesh, I'm sure someone will come up with a more comprehensive reply but until then....

"2nd hand low" is a good advice when playing 2nd to trick, directly after declarer has made her lead, you should not attempt to win the trick by playing a high card but rather play a low card. There is no reason to waste your high cards on declarers low cards but rather wait until declarer plays a high card to capture it with your (higher) card.

"3rd hand high" is suggesting to play your highest card, if you can beat dummy to either win the trick, or set up a trick in partners hand.
In this sequence, your partner has led a card, declarer has played a card from her hand or dummy, you are 3rd to play and should try to beat declarers card.

"splitting honors" is an exception to the "2nd hand low" guideline. Here it suggests if you hold touching honors and you want to be certain of making one of them, you should play an honor, or "split" them. Usualy you would p[lay the lower of 2 touching honors, thus indicating to partner that you hold the higher, touching, honor.

Be aware that all guidelines (I hate to call them rules) have exceptions and that inferences from bidding, the play and your partners signals can all be indications of which card you should play, but these points are a good guideline.
Searching for your own mistakes is the only way to learn this game. - Fluffy

And no matter what methods you play, it is essential, for anyone aspiring to learn to be a good player, to learn the importance of bidding shape properly. - MikeH

SLOW DOWN! This is not a speedball :)
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#3 User is offline   Antrax 

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Posted 2012-April-09, 09:01

Second hand low:
You hold Kxx, dummy has AQT and declarer leads the 2. The maxim instructs you to play a low club and not the king. If you play low and declarer guesses right to play the queen, he will score two club tricks. However, if you play the king, declarer can't go wrong, and will always score two club tricks.
A less trivial example is this:
You have Axx and dummy has KJ. Declarer plays a low diamond towards the dummy and you play low, quickly if possible. If you play the ace, declarer will score a diamond trick. If you don't, he might guess wrong to play the J and if your partner has the Q, he will not win any diamond tricks in dummy. Even if he guesses right and plays the K, you will later score your A, so playing low is strictly better - you will win either two or one diamond tricks, as opposed to always one.
This rule has many exceptions, as jillybean said, but at the beginner level, it's a good guiding principle. Remember declarer can't see your cards, so making him guess will win some of the time, and you can't do that by playing high.

Third hand high:
You have K97 and dummy has 654. Your partner leads the 2 and dummy plays low. You should play the K to try and force out as high a card as possible from declarer. If you play a lower card, declarer might win cheaply with a T or J that were "undeserved" - in the extreme case your partner led from AQ32 and you can score four heart tricks right away if you play high.
This rule has exceptions already at the beginner level. The first is something like this:
You have KJ9 and dummy has Q65. Your partner leads the 2 and dummy plays low. You should play the J as you know declarer can't win his queen cheaply - dummy has it. So, on this trick, playing the J will win the trick or force out the ace, same as the king would have.
Another exception is less obvious, and it has to do with a situation where:
You have KT7 and dummy has Q65. Your partner leads the 2 and dummy plays low. Sometimes playing the T is the right move, retaining your king over dummy's queen. This can be important if you know partner can't have the ace, or if you think declarer will need the queen as a dummy entry, or if your partner's lead guarantees he has the J, or if your suit is actually longer and you think you can run it if partner leads it again, etc. This is more difficult, but often it's a good idea to retain an honor over an honor in dummy.

Splitting honors:
You have KQJ32 and dummy has AT4. Declarer leads a low spade. You should play one of your honors (which one depends on your agreement with your partner) to force declarer to win the ace, allowing you to win the next two rounds in the suit. Generally this applies whenever you have a series of touching honors and you worry declarer might try to win cheaply - even if he's leading from dummy towards his hand.
I think this maxim is wrong the most, of those three. If he has AJT9 over your KQ then splitting is probably right, since you expect him to try and finesse the J, hoping at least one of the K and Q are in your hand. But if he has AJ54 and he leads the 3, there's no reason to assume he'll finesse the J - it's also possible he just wants an entry to dummy and he's planning to play the ace no matter what you do.
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#4 User is offline   Lesh18 

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Posted 2012-April-09, 09:59

Ok, thanks, but do those three guidelines apply to all tricks during the play, or just the first trick started by the opener's lead?

And third hand high -> does it only apply when the west leads (assuming south is the declarer)? Or the east can lead also, and then west is to play high?

And likewise with second hand low, does it only apply to west when declarer leads, or also to the east when the dummy leads?
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#5 User is offline   MartyD24 

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Posted 2012-April-09, 10:46

"2nd hand low", "3rd hand high" and "splitting honeurs" as (so called) guidelines have nothing to do with table position or trick count, they just apply to you, when you (as a defender) are in the certain situation. For example, "2nd hand low" does apply to you as west, when south leads up to north, and it may apply to east (a few tricks later), if north leads up to south.

But, please do not follow these guidelines blindly (like a roboter). Bridge is a complicated game and especialy defense is the hardest part of it. There are many situations, where the "2nd hand low" guideline wants you to play a low card, but the winning defensive play would be to play "2nd hand high", i.e. to prevent your partner from beeing endplayed a trick later or to save partner`s entry(, if, defending a nt contract, his long suit is not established yet). The same must be said regarding "3rd hand high" and "splitting honors".

Try to learn to work out, what is going on among all four hands. This will improve your defense.
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#6 User is offline   Antrax 

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Posted 2012-April-09, 11:20

I wouldn't worry too much about endplays at this point in time - but here's an example for a situation where it's correct to play second hand high. Let's say you're playing a no-trump contract and dummy has a club suit that looks something like this:
AJT9xx
But has no "outside entry" - i.e. dummy has no high card that declarer can use to enter dummy. Declarer's plan is going to be to try and knock out whatever stoppers you and your partner hold in clubs and still end up in dummy, to be able to cash club tricks. Now let's say you're playing before dummy, and have Kx. Declarer leads a low club. Surprisingly, the correct play is to play the K. You are hoping partner has at least Qxx of clubs, so he can hold off winning his honour until the third trick. If the club position is what you expect (declarer having two small and partner having Qxx), then if you play low declarer will play the 9, and your partner will likely take the chance to win his Q. Then, declarer can later play another club, you will be forced to play your king, and declarer will win five club tricks.
If instead you play the king, declarer can play low, in which case partner will still have Qx after dummy's AJT9x to prevent declarer running the suit, or he can play the ace, but he will be exhausted of clubs when your partner wins his Q.
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#7 User is offline   Cthulhu D 

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Posted 2012-April-09, 17:47

View PostLesh18, on 2012-April-09, 09:59, said:

Ok, thanks, but do those three guidelines apply to all tricks during the play, or just the first trick started by the opener's lead?


They apply to all tricks during the play. However, always remember they are only guidelines, not rules.
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#8 User is online   P_Marlowe 

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Posted 2012-April-10, 03:56

View PostLesh18, on 2012-April-09, 09:59, said:

Ok, thanks, but do those three guidelines apply to all tricks during the play, or just the first trick started by the opener's lead?

And third hand high -> does it only apply when the west leads (assuming south is the declarer)? Or the east can lead also, and then west is to play high?

And likewise with second hand low, does it only apply to west when declarer leads, or also to the east when the dummy leads?

You are always allowed to break the guidelines, but you should have a reason for breaking the guidline.
Breaking a guidline, should be seen as a wakeup call for partner.
"Partner wake up - I did something unexpected, try to find a rationale, why I did this."

A common situation for breaking the guideline "2nd hand low" is:

Partner attacks against an NT contract.
Partner will usually try to attack his longest / best suit - again a guidline, he will follow,
unless he has a good reason to deviate from this.

Declaraer plays a card from dummy, you have the chance to rise and win the trick, and you have
a card in partners suit, to lead.
Than you should rise to protect partners entries, because if he has no entry, he wont be able
to cash his winners in the suit he lead.

Of course, if you know, that partners suit cant be established, or that he lead from just a 4
card suit, and establishing partners suit wont break the contract, or that he wont have a 2nd
entry and partners suit is not established yet,
than you have a reason for not breaking the guideline "2nd hand low" in the described scenario.

In general - My suggestion would be to find a course / a regular training session, alternative
read, because the tid bits found here on BBF wont help you get a comprehensive picture.
I am not trying to discourage you from asking, but you should understand the limits of what
can be achieved going via asking in a forum.

With kind regards
Marlowe
With kind regards
Uwe Gebhardt (P_Marlowe)
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#9 User is offline   Vampyr 

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Posted 2012-April-10, 06:42

View PostP_Marlowe, on 2012-April-10, 03:56, said:

In general - My suggestion would be to find a course / a regular training session, alternative
read,


Seriously, you need to start playing. Most people do not know enough to ask your questions before they have ever played a hand. Once you have played a couple, many things will become clear.
I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones -- Albert Einstein
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#10 User is online   P_Marlowe 

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Posted 2012-April-10, 07:45

View PostVampyr, on 2012-April-10, 06:42, said:

Seriously, you need to start playing. Most people do not know enough to ask your questions before they have ever played a hand. Once you have played a couple, many things will become clear.

Regular playing is also important, but I would recommend a supervised playing mode,
i.e. someone is keeping an eye on the play, and after a couple of hands, does a review.

However you get this done, and I agree ... reading is not much fun, espesially if it comes
to declarer play / defence, at least I dont enjoy reading about this stuff, unfortunately
I have too ...

With kind regards
Marlowe
With kind regards
Uwe Gebhardt (P_Marlowe)
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#11 User is offline   Vampyr 

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Posted 2012-April-10, 08:14

View PostP_Marlowe, on 2012-April-10, 07:45, said:

Regular playing is also important, but I would recommend a supervised playing mode,
i.e. someone is keeping an eye on the play, and after a couple of hands, does a review.


Oh, for sure, playing in the context of lessons or supervised play is the most helpful way to begin. Also neither of us mentioned watching BBO VuGraph to see all of these theoretical ideas actually put into practice, and much can be learned from the remarks of the expert commentators.
I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones -- Albert Einstein
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#12 User is offline   Antrax 

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Posted 2012-April-10, 08:33

I couldn't disagree more. Vugraph is a terrible resource for beginners, IMO. If the play is trivial it's claimed at trick 2, so all you see are the odd ones out, which skews your perception. Also, my experience with commentators is that they rarely explain the very basics.
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