BRIAN GRAY ARTICLE
Still feeling like a newcomer himself, Brian Gray has recently published a book designed to aid the newcomer to bridge.
John Rayner, renowned Canadian bridge teacher and Canadian champion writes.
Many aspiring new bridge players eventually, with trepidation, venture out to their local duplicate bridge club to give it a try.
For new players the world of duplicate bridge can be a daunting and humbling experience.
For such players, Brian Gray’s “A Newcomers Guide: Stress-Free Introduction To Duplicate
Bridge” is a wonderful reference to help them better prepare for the experience of club play.
With detail and humour, Brian gently guides the reader through every aspect of what to expect as you get ready for your debut at the duplicate table.
In addition to the fine explanations and advice, this book‘s presentation, the quality of the type-style, pages, graphics and illustrations is terrific. Colour abounds throughout, bringing
the pages alive. Brian’s book should be a “must-read” for every newer player – and for more experienced players as well.
I’m just an advancing newcomer player. I know the term Safety Play but probably would not recognize a safety play situation.
I would mistakenly play on and only realize the error in my line of play when it was too late. I’d just grumble, “Bad trump split again,” for not making the contract.
I wanted to “spruce up” this article and make it more meaningful by using personal examples of a safety play. I didn’t want to just Google “Safety
definition: A safety play is where you play
a suit in such a way that it will protect
against an adverse distribution of the
opponents’ cards. With this line of play,
you may give up the chance to make the
maximum number of tricks when there’s
an average break, but you avoid the loss
of extra tricks when there’s a bad break.
I am still looking for an answer to my
question: “How will I recognize a safety
HOLD UP PLAYS (KEEP DANGEROUS OPPONENTS OFF-LEAD)
Below is what I have learned from various contributors.
Here is writer James R. Klein in a post
at the website www.bridgetips.co.il
“In order for the average player to
know when to use a safety play (when
the occasion presents itself), the player
must be able to concentrate on the
following three things:+
1) The player must be able to fix in
their mind, especially as declarer, the
outstanding cards of a suit not held
in hand and dummy.
2) The player must be able to visualize
the worst possible way these cards
could be distributed.
3) The player must assume this
distribution and play to hold their
loss to a minimum, or to bring
home the contract against the bad
distribution. This is especially true in
doubled contracts, slam contracts,
and unusual game contracts.”
Here is a definition from another
contributor, Merry Schainblatt,
a retired special educator, now
combining a love of bridge with a
The ACBL Bridge Series, “Play of the
Hand,” also has helpful examples of
WINNING SUIT COMBINATIONS (MINIMIZE TRUMP LOSERS/FEAR OF UGLY TRUMP DISTRIBUTION)
Greg Coles, ACBL Technology Guru,
ACBL Tournament Director, certified
teacher, and former Club Manager of
Midland Bridge Club, Ontario provides
us with this example:
The bidding goes 1NT by South, 3NT
West lead, the ]Q. This one is simply
a case of thinking about what could go
wrong. If the missing clubs are divided
3-2 then declarer has ten winners
off the top (a spade, two hearts, a
diamond, and six clubs). However, if
you assume that this is going to be the
case when you play two top clubs and
find out that the clubs are divided 4-1,
you will now have no chance of taking
nine tricks due to the fact that there
are no entries to dummy. The better
play is to duck a round of clubs right
away while you still have control of all
the suits. Now you will take nine tricks
company on this unfriendly layout. However, if your objective is to make the contract at all costs (rubber bridge or team game), you should play a club to dummy’s nine when West contributes the club three.
This play guarantees success regardless of how clubs break. When East discards, you play a diamond towards hand in an effort to build a winner in that suit with a good guess. Even if you misguess diamonds, you can still make 3NT as a subsequent finesse of the jack of clubs.
Play” for the information. How much fun would that be? On behalf of the Kibitzer readers, may I extend our heartfelt thanks to all the contributors: the bridge experts, teachers, and writers who gave freely of their time and talents to educate us with their Safety Play examples.
TRICK DEVELOPMENT (LIMITED ENTRIES)
Thank you, Josee Hammill, for your editing prowess and constructive commentary. I will set the stage with Karen Walker’s
love of teaching. Merry is accredited
through TAP, is a certified online
teacher, accredited through Learn
Bridge and a dynamite teacher at St.
Petersburg Bridge Club, Florida. Merry
“The safety play is used when you are
trying to gain extra tricks through
length but have no other entries to the
suit other than through that suit.
The key to using a safety play is to
stop and make your plan to make your
contract before playing to the first
Say this is the heart holding:
♡ xxx ♡ A K x x x
You have eight hearts and if your opps
have five, they are likely to break 3-2.
Ideally, you can play the ace and king,
then lose a trick, get back to the
dummy with an entry in another suit
and collect the last two tricks. But
what if you don’t have an entry in
You have to use the safety play. So, you
should lose the first trick in that suit.
This leaves the ace and king in the
dummy and two small hearts in your
hand. Next time you get control, lead
small to the ace and collect the rest of
the tricks. You have to recognize this
potential problem when the dummy
comes down or you might not do it
Contributor Dave Willis is bridge
columnist for the Toronto Star and
Ottawa Citizen. He’s also the Director
at the Prince of Wales Bridge Club in
Ottawa. Here’s his example:
With N-S vulnerable, the bidding goes
3} by North, 3NT by South.
Opening lead: ♠️Q
Safety plays are really only appropriate
at rubber bridge or imp scoring,
where overtricks are of little value.
A safety play requires declarer to
sacrifice potential overtricks which are
losing tactics at matchpoints (where
overtricks are all important).
You are fortunate to have escaped a
heart lead on this deal. Dummy has
no outside entry to the club suit and
so the play of the top clubs will be an
abject failure when a defender holds
}Qxx. Defeat will be imminent.
At matchpoints, you should play a club
and insert the jack when West follows
suit. This line will guarantee at least
nine tricks as long as East follows suit.
Alas, East shows out and the game will
be defeated, but you will have lots of
brings home the entire suit and earns the game bonus. Stay tuned for more examples of safety plays in future issues of the Kib! Brian is busy finishing his second bridge book,
“A Handy Bridge Player’s Guide to Duplicate” for the UK beginners.
You can read more about what Brian is up to at his website: www.bridgebeginnermentor.ca