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Play and Defend Better: for improving players

TWO LITTLE CLUES FOR ONE SUCCESSFUL DEFENCE

It is always harder at the table to spot the right defence than when you are given a problem. When given a problem, there is usually a catch! So, let’s finish the bridge year with you as the defender in the spotlight:

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

 

1NT was 12-14 with North going briskly to game. Your partner led the Spade-small2 attitude style and the first trick went to your 10 and declarer’s queen. At trick 2, South led Diamond-smallA and a second diamond, with your partner, West, throwing Club-small6 reverse attitude style…low like. South allows you to win the Diamond-smallQ. What now?

Well, partner did lead a very low spade and you do not lose many post-mortems by returning their suit. So, do you?

There were a couple of little reasons why you might win the post-mortem and the board by switching.

The first reason is partner’s discard. Club-small6 looked rather discouraging ( though you would hardly encourage in that suit considering dummy’s holding!). However, it is not what West did throw that matters: it is more a case of what they did not! With no interest in the heart suit, they might have thrown one of those red cards to discourage the only suit other than spades which you, East, might consider playing. The club discard and lack of a heart discard rather suggested that South might have a heart weakness.

Let’s look at all 4 hands and see the other clue:

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

West would hardly part with a club if they were guarding the king. So, place South with Spade-smallQ, Diamond-smallA and Club-smallK and their remaining honour would be a major king or ace. With West not discouraging hearts, you might deduce about which suit declarer was really worried.

Indeed, holding Diamond-smallA95 and with the Club-smallK, South may well have played a club to dummy and finessed through your hand if they held Spade-smallKQx. Keep East off lead. They might survive losing to the Diamond-smallQ in West’s hand but not if you East held it.

In other words, on the actual deal, declarer did not mind, indeed wanted you to continue spades. You can see why.

So, a spade continuation may have not lost you the post-mortem but did not beat the contract. A heart switch (low heart…you can see Heart-small10 in your hand) brought double joy in the post-mortem and with the result.
May you achieve many such successful defences in the New Year.

Richard Solomon

 

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