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Play and Defend Better: for improving players

It should not have made…but it did!

Have you heard that before? Have you experienced that before? Be honest. Yes, you have. Recently? It’s OK… no-one is asking you to reveal! The defence was not that hard to find, either.

Was it because dummy was so weak that you took your eye off the ball? Never relax as a defender. You may have just seen your last chance to defeat the contract evaporate.

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

 

Partner led Spade-smallT and you won with declarer following with Spade-small3. You continued with a second high spade but it was declarer who ruffed. Next came the Heart-smallA from South with West contributing Heart-small9 and then Club-smallJ to the Club-small7 and dummy’s Club-smallQ which won the trick. Next came a diamond to the queen and partner’s king and diamond return. Contract made!

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

 

Declarer ruffed their last diamond in dummy, drew trumps and conceded just one more trick to the Club-smallA. Ouch!

West and East could have a nice conversation blaming each other. Certainly, West’s diamond return was a little tame. South was marked with at least 6 trumps on the bidding and only one spade. There was every chance that they had three clubs meaning cashing Club-smallA was a wise move.. and a club ruff would have been the fourth defensive trick. If both East and South followed, no damage would have been done. It was very unlikely that South had two black singletons.

Yet, which defender really needed a ruff? Almost certainly East because with at most only one trump in the West hand, the chances were that it was South who was short in spades not West. Also, unless South was monstrously strong, West had a few high cards in the minors. So, at trick 2, East could have made life so much simpler for the defence by switching to their club. After the club ruff, East could try a second high spade but no joy. South must lose a diamond whichever way they now wriggle and the contract fails…

The moral is defence is hard enough that you should do the obvious if you can and hope it is enough. It often is.

Richard Solomon

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