Bridge by Steve Becker

How often do you make a bid and, a few seconds later, wish you could take it back and substitute another call?

Or how often do you make a play and want to retract it a moment later because you overlooked a better play?

The trouble with these omissions, if you’re subject to them, is that you’re not permitted to change a bid or play, but must stand or fall by what you’ve done. You get no second chance. To overcome this tendency, you must learn to think first and play later.

Consider this case where you’re in five diamonds and West leads the king of spades. When you play the ace, East ruffs and returns a trump, and, since you cannot avoid losing a heart and another spade, you go down one.

You could, of course, claim bad luck, but when you think further about the matter, you realize that you started with 11 tricks and wound up with only 10. All you had to do was to preserve those 11 tricks, and you would have gotten home safely.

Your undoing can be traced to your playing too hastily from dummy at trick one. Had you ducked the king of spades (as well as the Q-J if the suit was continued, ruffing the third round in your hand), you would have nailed down the contract, eventually discarding your heart loser on the ace of spades.

Given the bidding, there was certainly a very strong possibility that East might ruff the ace of spades. But if you played the ace at trick one and thought of the right play afterward, it would suggest a need to train yourself to follow the aforementioned advice: Think first, play later!

Tomorrow: Famous Hand.

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