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More Declarer Play The Bergen Way


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Chapter 15: When Not to Trump Your Losers .................. 161


Chapter 16


© 2006 - Marty Bergen

Page 173

Chapter 1 - Drawing Trumps

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16. When an opponent passed throughout after his partner opened, it is reasonable to assume that the weaker opponent has virtually nothing.

16. In a suit contract, declarer’s fate is often determined by what happens in his longest side suit.

19. Except when scrambling or crossruffing, declarer never wants to run out of trumps and lose control of the hand.  When the defenders try to repeatedly force him to ruff in his hand, he must do whatever is necessary to maintain control of the trump suit.

20. When you need to develop two suits, deciding which suit to work on first is often difficult but crucial. This is especially true when you were not able to first draw trumps.

22. In a normal duplicate game (matchpoint scoring), you need to think about both overtricks and undertricks. However, when you’re not playing matchpoints, life is easier. Then you can focus all your energy on making the contract.

© 2006- Marty Bergen

Page 174

Chapter 2 - Two For the Price of One

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25. Deciding what trump to use to ruff a loser is sometimes both crucial and non-obvious.

26. Always be on the lookout for a suit that is blocked. If you do have one, you usually need to unblock it ASAP.

26. In some cases, you can avoid blocking a suit merely by being careful about your spot cards and intermediates.

27. “When setting up a suit, use up the honors from the short side first” is very important, but don’t forget the corollary: “Don’t get stuck in the short hand.”

31. When presented with a ruff-sluff, the key is to first decide what loser you are most eager to sluff. Then, all you need to do is ruff in the other hand.

31. Making a hand on an endplay is great, but don’t try for one on every deal.

© 2006- Marty Bergen

Page 175

Chapter 3 - Suit Combinations

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35. When your side has a 10-card fit missing Kxx, the percentage play is to finesse rather than play for the drop.

36. When declarer is analyzing the right way to play a suit, his first order of business is to identify (and then ignore) the defenders’ holdings where his play does not matter.

38. When declarer can guard against any division of the opponents’ cards, he should do so.

39. When declarer can’t guard against all bad splits, he should do what he can.

42. Knowing (or being able to figure out) the best way to play a suit is essential for declarer.

42. When developing a suit, declarer must be aware of the intermediates he is missing as well as the ones he has.

44. When your side has nine cards missing KQxx, the rank of the missing spot cards can affect declarer’s line of play.

© 2006- Marty Bergen

Page 176

Chapter 4 - Life in Notrump

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49. No one enjoys watching the opponents run a long suit in notrump. On the other hand, because notrump contracts are usually more straightforward than suit contracts, it is often easier to declare a contract when there is no trump suit.

51. When the opportunity to finesse in a suit is created because of the unexpected fall of an opponent’s honor(s), it’s usually correct to take the finesse.

51. Too many players think of finesses only in terms of missing honor(s). Actually, deep finesses involving lesser cards are not uncommon.

54. There is no more important topic for declarer than managing his entries. Trick 1 is not too early to start.

54. Applying The Rule of 11 to a fourth-best lead can allow declarer to know a lot about the suit led.

56. Declarer should lead an honor for a finesse only when he will be well-placed if it is covered.

© 2006- Marty Bergen

Page 177

Chapter 5 - Maximizing Your Entries

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59. When the hand with the key long suit in notrump contains few entries, declarer may have an entry problem that cannot be resolved with normal play.

60. Intermediate cards can be very relevant in providing entries.

62. When you need to ruff several losers in dummy’s short suit, make sure that dummy has enough trumps. It’s easy to run out – especially after a trump lead.

62. All 5-card suits deserve consideration for developing extra tricks. If you have a realistic plan to set up the suit, it is usually correct to begin ASAP.

66. Many declarers don’t duck often enough in both suit contracts and notrump. There are numerous situations where the best line of play necessitates that you “lose your losers early.”

66. It is a lot easier to fulfill a notrump contract when the strength is evenly divided. 13 opposite 13 allows much better transportation than 20 opposite 6.

© 2006- Marty Bergen

Page 178

Chapter 6 - To Finesse or Not

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70. Everyone knows that the normal play when missing Qxxx is to play for the drop. However, finessing with nine cards is only slightly inferior, so even a small clue may be enough to cause you to decide to finesse.

70. Any time declarer is able to acquire potentially useful information, he should be delighted to do so. This is especially true when there is more than one sensible way to play a particular suit.

70. Always strive to learn all you can about the opponents’ distribution. Once you know one player’s distribution, all you need to learn his partner’s shape is some simple arithmetic.

74. Too many players take too many finesses. Experienced players know better. They prefer to develop suits based on length and/or strength.

76. Never take a finesse if it won’t help you even if it happens to succeed. These are often referred to as “practice finesses.”

© 2006- Marty Bergen

Page 179

Chapter 7 - The Right Time to Finesse

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80. Intermediate cards can make all the difference in helping you cope with bad splits.

81. It is reasonable to assume that an opening lead in a suit contract denies the ace of that suit. The only exceptions are a trump lead or a lead of the king.

82 Because finesses lose half of the time, they should never be your first choice. But sometimes they are the way to go, for example:

when there is no alternative;
when the finesse is odds on based on the bidding or early play;
when the finesse offers the best chance to develop the key suit.

86. Focusing on your goal is always crucial. This is especially true when finessing. If you can afford to lose one trick in a suit, the correct technique may be very different than the right way to play the suit if you cannot afford any losers.

© 2006- Marty Bergen

Page 180

Chapter 8 - YOU Can Execute an Endplay

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90. When you need the defenders to lead a particular suit to you, draw trumps and strip your hand and dummy’s of any irrelevant suit. Then, “throw them in” with a sure loser.

92. With tenaces such as AQ or Kx in your hand opposite small cards, you love to see your LHO lead the suit.

92. Endplays in notrump contracts are rare, but do exist.

92. Sometimes, you desperately need an opponent to lead “to you” in a notrump contract. Don’t avoid throwing him in just because he can cash a few winners in his long suit before helping you out.

92. It’s no fun to be “stuck in your hand,” so try to avoid using up dummy’s last entry early on. Good declarers strive to maintain good communication between their two hands.

92. Squeezing an opponent is fun; squeezing yourself is not.

© 2006- Marty Bergen

Page 181

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99. Declarer should always memorize the opening lead. In addition to the obvious information that it conveys, other inferences are always available.

100. Before playing a card in a suit contract, you should count your losers.

100. If a defender makes the opening lead of a low trump, assume that he does not have the queen.

102. Even if you intend to take a finesse, if you’re able to postpone it, sometimes a favorable development in another suit will allow you to avoid it altogether.

103. You can’t always make your contract. Your only goal should be to give yourself the best chance. If the defenders lead and defend perfectly and the cards don’t cooperate, no one could make em all.

105. It is usually wrong for declarer to be eager to shorten his trumps. Therefore, dummy reversals are rare.

© 2006- Marty Bergen

Page 182

Chapter 10 - Surviving Bad Splits

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109. On some hands, identifying your key side suit is not enough – you must also figure out how to handle that suit.

109. No one enjoys having to deal with a bad split in his key suit, but it does help when you know the story before having to play that suit.

113. When playing in a suit contract, always keep in mind: “When in doubt, develop your side suit.” More often than not, declarer’s key side suit is his longest suit other than trumps.

105. When declarer has a choice of where to win a trick, he must consider: “Where do I need to be later?”

106. When you’re looking at an inevitable loser, cash your outside winners and preserve entries to both of your hands. If you do, you’ll be amazed how often your loser disappears when an opponent is squeezed (or pseudo-squeezed).

© 2006- Marty Bergen

Page 183

Chapter 11 - Sizing Up the Situation

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119. In a suit contract, declarer must often choose between two plans to get rid of his losers. Should he set up a long suit, or should he prefer a “short-suit plan?”  Each hand must be evaluated individually, but long suits always merit a second look.

120. On some deals, you must leave trumps in dummy even though you are not intending to use them for ruffing.

120. When you have an 8-card fit, the suit will divide badly almost 1/3 of the time.

123. The number of trumps you have does not determine whether you should draw trumps immediately.

123. One of the best reasons to not draw trumps first is that you urgently need to get rid of a loser.

125. When both opponents are passed hands, declarer can often locate missing honors.

125. Sometimes the inferences from a pass can be as useful as if the player had bid.

© 2006- Marty Bergen

Page 184

Chapter 12 - Appreciating a Second Chance

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131. When declarer is missing six cards in a suit, a 3-3 split occurs only slightly more than 1/3 of the time.

131. The technique of testing a suit to learn more about how to proceed is an example of a “discovery play.”

133. Don’t waste brain cells regretting an action that has already taken place.

133. It is very important for declarer to distinguish inevitable losers from those which may not have to be lost.

134. With A K 10 opposite small cards, you have a legitimate 25% chance to successfully finesse the 10.

135. On some deals, because of entry considerations, declarer must preserve a very small card to use later on.

140. Sometimes, the normal way to play a suit is not the correct way to play the hand.

140. If you can give yourself an extra chance, you’re sure to succeed more often.

© 2006- Marty Bergen

Page 185

Chapter 14 - Counting Winners in Suits

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143. Although you usually count losers in a suit contract, on some deals it is easier and more helpful to count winners. This is especially true when:

a) the contract is a part-score or slam; or
b) the trump suit is shaky; or
c) you are planning to crossruff.

144. When your trump suit is inadequate, and drawing trumps is out of the question, it may be wise to scramble (ruff whenever you can) even though you will totally relinquish control of the trump suit.

144. Whenever you are intending to do a lot of ruffing, you should cash your side-suit winners ASAP. When you have a choice, cash the winners in the longer suit first.

147. In a suit contract, if a player preempts but leads another suit, it should come as no surprise that he is leading a short suit, hoping for a ruff.

147. Although you usually ruff low early and high later, special circumstances may dictate a different approach.

© 2006- Marty Bergen

Page 186

Chapter 14 - Good Guys, Bad Guys

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155. When you cash a winner, you usually throw off a card in the weakest suit in the other hand. However, it is sometimes correct to make your discard in a stronger suit.

156. On some deals, you will be afraid of one defender gaining the lead, but will not be concerned if his partner gets in.  This will almost always greatly affect the way you play the hand.

156. One of the best times to draw trumps first is when you want to run a suit and it is likely that a defender will be able to ruff in.

158. When you have a suit consisting of Kx in your hand and no strength in dummy: you’re delighted if LHO leads the suit, but very concerned if RHO leads it. This is one of many examples of “playing last is best.”

158. Although you hate to do it, sometimes you are forced to abandon a winner in a notrump contract in order to retain a stopper in that suit.

© 2006- Marty Bergen

Page 187

Chapter 15 - When Not to Trump Losers

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163. Some players only notice honor cards. Better players are also aware of their intermediates and make the most of them.

165. Because the presence of aces ensures being in control, your chances of success in any contract are far greater when your side has all four aces.

167. Good players try to make contracts without depending on a 50% finesse.

167. Transportation between the defenders’ hands is crucial for them, so any time declarer can cut communication between defenders, he should do so.

167. Avoid playing instinctively. Although it is normal to ruff your losers, when you have a good reason, you should prefer to discard a loser in another suit.

167. Always try to maintain flexibility in the trump suit while drawing trumps. Keeping entries to both hands can be crucial in the subsequent play.

© 2006- Marty Bergen

Order More Declarer Play here

Chapter 1: Drawing Trumps: All, Some, or None ............... 13

Chapter 2: Two For the Price of One ................................ 23

Chapter 3: Suit Combinations For Fun & Profit .................. 33

Chapter 4: Life in Notrump .............................................. 47

Chapter 5: Maximizing Your Entries .................................. 57

Chapter 6: To Finesse, or Not to Finesse? .......................... 67

Chapter 7: The Right Time to Finesse ............................... 77

Chapter 8: YOU Can Execute an Endplay ......................... 87

Chapter 9: Timing is Everything ....................................... 97

Chapter 10: Surviving Bad Splits ..................................... 107

Chapter 11: Sizing Up the Situation ................................. 117

Chapter 12: Everyone Deserves A Second Chance ........... 127

Chapter 13: Counting Winners in Suit Contracts ............... 141

Chapter 14: Good Guys, Bad Guys ................................. 151

Chapter 15: When Not to Trump Your Losers .................. 161

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