Applebasket Entry, 2013

Submitted by: Kathy Rolfe (Greenwood, Missouri)—Tied for Third—Sixth Place

Make Your Opponent’s Life Difficult!

I tell my students that their objective is to make their opponent’s life as difficult as possible; of course, doing so politely, legally, and with as little risk to your side as possible!

I begin to teach them this from the very beginning of both playing and bidding. When teaching the finesse, if, for example, declarer is leading a small card towards the ace and queen in dummy, and LHO holds the king, they are not to play that king! That’s giving the answer to declarer on a silver platter!

They must play smoothly, in tempo, and low! Make the declarer take the chance on the finesse. We, as the defender, know their finesse will work, but maybe declarer will be afraid to attempt it and we’ll get our king after all! That’s the same reason we don’t lead a king (not holding the ace or queen) because that would be handing it to the opponents on a silver platter! Instead,
Make Their Life Difficult!

When I teach opening preempts, the students are taught the purpose is to make their opponent’s life difficult! When responding to an opening weak 2 with a preemptive raise, they are once again told,
“Remember, your job is to make your opponent’s life difficult!”

When teaching showing count on the opponent’s lead, especially when there is a long suit in dummy that might run, I emphasize that if you can determine how many cards your partner has in that suit, you can determine how long to hold up on your key card in that suit. We want to cut off the opponent’s ability to run that suit without giving them any extra tricks at all if we can help it.
Remember, your job is to make your opponent’s life difficult!

The students, young and old, all seem to enjoy that mantra!

Brad Pitt as Billy Beane in the movie Moneyball told his assistant,
“When your enemies are making mistakes, don’t interrupt them!”

I think Billy has the same philosophy as I do! That philosophy of not correcting your opponents’ mistakes is shown to my students when I tell them not to correct the declarer on the hand they are leading from unless it is to their own advantage. Take a second to determine if you like where they are incorrectly leading from. If you do, accept the lead! I then go on to tell them how my opponents set me at the NABC in Honolulu in 2006 by following that advice, causing us to lose the knockout!