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Safety Play - A line of play that minimizes the risk to make a contract, as opposed to attempting to make the maximum attainable score.  Safety Plays more frequent in Rubber Bridge and Duplicate IMPS scoring, while Duplicate matchpoint scoring encourages players to take greater risks.

  W N E S
    1C (1D) 1S
  (P) 2D (3D) P
  (P) 4S All Pass

 

  A Q 10 9
A J x x
A x x
A J x
 
x x
10 x x x
x
x x x x x x


Contract: 4 Spades

Declarer: South

K J x
x x
K 10 9 x x x x
x
  x x x x
K Q x
Q J x
K Q 10
 

West leads a Diamond and declarer South evaluates a good contract - 4 Hearts, 3 Clubs at least 1 Diamond and 2+ Spades.   But what happens if declarer gets greedy, ducking the first trick hoping the DQ will win a trick?  East wins the DK, returning a Diamond which West ruffs with a low Spade.   Declarer must still lose 2 more Spade tricks, the SK and SJ going down 1.  East holding both Spade tenaces seems unlikely - normally a 26 percent chance, yet the somber result speaks for itself.

  A Q 10 9
A J x x
A x x
A J
 
x x
10 x x x
x
x x x x x x


Contract: 4 Spades

Declarer: South

K J x
x x
K 10 9 x x x x
x
  x x x x
K Q x
Q J x
K Q 10
 

Let's try again.  Playing Rubber Bridge or IMP Team scoring, South should instead make a Safety Play.  Win the DA, cash the SA, cross to declarer's CK, then play a low Spade to Dummy.   While declarer might lose 1 Diamond and 2 Spades, the contract is safe when the suits and trump tenaces break poorly.

Here's another tip - when you are declarer with 6 or more cards in a side suit and an opponent leads the suit, be wary of trying a finesse in your declarer hand.   One of the opponents may hold a singleton and if the finesse fails, it could result in a two or more trick loss (rather than just one if you won with the Ace in dummy).

Also see books on Safety Plays

 

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