Linda Lee — My personal bridge blog

Defence Is King

Last year Rhoda Habert told us that what you need to do to win World Championships is defend really well. Yesterday there were some interesting defensive hands that we didn’t get right. Here is the first. See if you can do better.

Your hand is S K96 H 32 D AQJ107 C J87

The bidding starts off pass, pass and you open 1D in third. It goes 1S by Jeff Smith, DBL by Isabelle which shows 4H and usually 4 in a minor too. You bid 2D, Jeff bids 2S, Isabelle bids 3D and his partner bids 4S.

The bidding has been

West North East South

         Pass   Pass 1D

1S     DBL    Pass 2D

           2S    3D      4S     All pass

Isabelle leads the D9 which shows she has no honour and dummy arrives with

S A8 H J10765 D K82 C K94

What is your plan?

Here was my thinking, Jeff probably has 6 spades, 1 or 2 diamonds, 2 hearts, and 3 or 4 clubs. (Isabelle could have 4H-4C and 3D for the auction). He has a spade loser, 1 or 2 diamonds and likely a heart. If he doesn’t have a second diamond loser than he could 2 hearts to lose. It seemed simplest to keep playing diamonds to find out if we had 2 diamond winners. Then if not when I was in on the SK I could play a heart hoping for 2 heart tricks.

Perhaps based on my thinking it might be better to overtake the diamond and play a heart. Partner know whether a second diamond is cashing or not and if needed might be able to switch to a club. (For example if she had 5 hearts).

I was not there yet.

Here is the right thinking. If we have 2 diamonds, a heart and a spade nothing we do is going to make them go away. We will have ample opportunities to cash. But if we need a club trick then we may have to play it right away before diamonds are set up. On that basis I should overtake the diamond and switch to a club. Could a club be wrong? Suppose Isabelle has this


And declarer has QJ10xxxx H K D X C A10xx

Now we have picked up the club suit for him. But wouldn’t Isabelle have bid 2H on that hand? I think so. Can you come up with another case where switching to a club is wrong and we can defeat the hand?

So you got it right if you said overtake the diamond and switch to a club. Here is the whole hand

  S 52  
  H K984  
  D 9653  
Jeff C Q102  
S QJ10744   S A8
H AQ   H J10765
D 4   D K82
C A653 Linda C K94
  S K96  
  H 32  
  D AQJ107  
  C J87  

Yes, it is true that for this auction I expected a bit more from Isabelle but that was no excuse for not trying for a club trick just in case.

Here is another interesting defence.  This time I will name no names.  Are you going to be 2 for 2?

You have S AJ84 H 6542 D QJ C AQ10 as north, noone vulnerable.

Here is the bidding.

West North East South
    Pass Pass
1S Pass 2D Pass
2S Pass 4S All pass

Have you picked a lead?  Lets say you start with the DQ, which will do fine.

Dummy has

S 9632 H K9 D AK10962 C 6.  Declarer wins the diamond in dummy and plays a spade.  You are playing upside down carding and partner plays the H3, declarer plays the SK.  Your play?  What is your plan?

Did you duck the SK?  It can hardly hurt.  If you didn’t we will get back to you in a moment.  Assuming you duck the SK declarer continues with a small spade and you win the SJ partner playing the C2.  What now?

Well if partner has the HA is simply can’t go anywhere.  The hand is down in top tricks.  Can you defeat the hand if partner has the HQ(J) and not the HA.  Yes, if partner has the CK.  So you lay down the CA and partner plays the C3.  He must have the CK or at least the CJ.  If that is true a club now can’t hurt.  You continue clubs dummy ruffing.  Now declarer can’t afford to draw any more trump since you can win and cash at least 1 club trick.  This is the only defence that will beat this hand on the lie of the cards.  Did you get it right?  Here is the whole hand

  S aj84  
  H 6542  
  D QJ  
Opponent C AQ10 Overbidding Opponent
S KQ1075   S 9632
H AJ   H k9
D 54   D ak10962
C 9854 Partner C 6
  S VOID  
  H Q10873  
  D 873  
  C KJ732  

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