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PLAY and DEFENCE for Improving Players

Guiding Partner

Good defence can be thoughtful defence. You know what needs to be done but partner may not be on the same wave-length. If you can, guide them.

Look at the very simple error which occurred in the defence to this part-score.

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


West’s weak 2 opening ended the bidding. North made the best lead for the defence of the Club-smallJ. West took their ace and immediately led a spade to the king and North’s ace. North exited their remaining club to South’s Club-small10. South switched to the top two diamonds and then played their Club-smallK on which North threw a diamond.

End of defence! South exited a spade on which a diamond was discarded. Another spade was ruffed in hand with the Heart-smallQ soon picking up the king with all the defender’s trumps being drawn without further loss…making 2Heart-small.

The defence failed to cash their third diamond trick to defeat the contract.

 Why? It was because North failed to ruff the Club-smallK to gain the lead. Whose fault was that? You can apportion a small part of the blame to North but the real culprit was South!

South did not know for sure that West had more than two diamonds but if West did, it did not matter whether North or West held the Diamond-smallQ because as long as North was on lead, South knew they could get a ruff.

South should have made North ruff the second club by leading their lowest remaining club, not the king,and requesting a diamond in the process ("low card" for the lower of the non-trump suits).

South knew from the opening lead that North held two clubs (top of a doubleton) and West three. Indeed, if West had only one spade (likely) and three clubs and six hearts, they had to have three diamonds.

Yes, North should have ruffed South’s Club-smallK but South should have made North ruff. “Just in case you discarded on my Club-smallK, partner."

That would be thoughtful defence, good defence. Your defence, I hope.

Richard Solomon


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