News archive

PLAY and DEFENCE for Improving Players

                             “To continue or to switch”? That is the question.

One of the hardest parts of defence can be when you lead the ace or king from a long suit of your own (headed by AK), with Qxx, appearing in dummy…and you have to decide whether it is safe, indeed correct, to continue that suit. This was the dilemma facing several defenders in the recent Inter-Provincial Championships.

Take a look at the following:

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

 

A lively auction like the above would have left you hoping you could do some damage to your vulnerable opponents in 5Diamond-small. Three aces and a king, along with your partner who made a free bid. It all sounds promising for the defence….or does it?

It really is a good idea to play count signals when you lead from a long suit headed by AK. When Qxx is in dummy, this becomes even more important.

Let’s say your side is playing reverse signals where “low then high” card shows an even number of cards and “high then low” means an odd number.

So, you lead the Club-smallK (“king for count, ace for attitude (like/dislike)) and after dummy’s Club-small3, your partner plays Club-small6 and declarer an ominous looking Club-small8. What do you play at trick 2? You would not like a second high club ruffed, would you?

Not sure about the club position? How about a nice safe Heart-smallA to ensure the contract’s defeat (they cannot deny you your trump ace!)? How are you feeling when the Heart-smallA is ruffed and declarer ruffs a spade to dummy and calls for the Heart-smallK on which they discard….

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

 

...a club!  Unlucky? Not really.

What did partner’s Club-small6 mean? If declarer’s Club-small8 was a true card (i.e. a singleton), your partner held Club-small762. Yes, they could have played Club-small6 from a 3 card suit but they should make their signal as clear as possible for you. Therefore, your partner does not hold 3 clubs…and that they hold two or maybe even one club. Leave that Heart-smallA for trick 3 once you have already played Club-smallA safely a trick earlier.

What about natural count where from three small cards, you play the lowest? That Club-small7 (high, low from a doubleton) cannot be the lowest of three and therefore, you are safe to continue.  

All a declarer can do in such a situation is to false-card and hope the defence go wrong.

However, as long as the defence played accurate count cards, reverse or natural, that Club-small8 should have been exposed for what it was…and 5Diamond-small should have been defeated. As you can guess, that did not always happen.  

Richard Solomon

 

 

 

 

Go Back View All News Items

Our Sponsors
  • Babich
  • Cock and Bull
  • NZB Foundation
  • Distinction Hotel
  • BridgeNZ logo.jpg
  • JLT Logo.jpg
  • pianola-logo-330-205.png