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PLAY and DEFENCE for Improving Players

“Guiding Partner”

It’s a sensible thing to do in order to get a good score. We often “guide partner” by a particular signal, suggesting they play a certain suit though another way is by taking away all other options to ensure partner plays the right card for you. Watch…


West Deals
E-W Vul
A J 9 7 3
9 4
A 10 6 4 3
10 5
K 9 8 2
A K Q 10 7 5 3
W   E
K 8 4
A 10 7 3
6 2
K 9 7 2
Q 6 2
J 6 5 4
J 8
Q J 8 5
West North East South
1  1  Dbl 2 
4  4  Dbl All pass


As West, you reached a very comfortable heart game though as so often with favourable vulnerability, the opponents, with a fit and some shape, took their chances in 4Spade-small. Partner chose to defend and with some misgivings, you passed partner’s double.

Although 5Heart-small is relatively easy to make for 650, passing was the right decision, too. It certainly would be had partner led a low club. Your side could score two club ruffs, Spade-smallK,a heart, two diamonds and the Club-smallK. That’s 800.

"Did you have to lead my suit?!"

However, partner chose the wrong time to lead your first bid suit, diamonds. After that start (the one time partner did lead your suit!), your aim must be to score a club ruff or else you may not get that many tricks. So, cash two high diamonds with all following and then play a heart. Which heart? Play Heart-small9 on the face of it a pretty negative card in that suit. You are trying to tell partner not to continue with hearts. After your jump to 4Heart-small, that might seem strange to your partner as North surely has only one heart. You are trying to point to partner to play the unbid, unplayed club suit.

Had partner a holding like Club-smallKQx, they might still (correctly) refuse to do so. One key pointer for partner is that if you had a club, a singleton, a doubleton, you could/would/should have played it/one of them yourself. Your partner could also draw an inference from the diamond play that you held a 7 card suit. So, 7 diamonds, 4 hearts… the picture should be coming clearer.

"Why no club switch? Ah, it's hard to switch with a void!"

A low club from partner then would ensure +500, still a small loss against the opposition making 5Heart-small but not nearly as bad had North been able to draw both of your trumps before the club position was exposed. You took all the diamonds out of your partner’s hand and told them not to continue hearts. Unless partner opted to exit with a trump, you had ensured your ruff and respectability on the board.

Richard Solomon



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