Test Your Defence Column by Julian Pottage
Originally published in, and reproduced here with permission of, Bridge Magazine
You cash two top spades, collecting the two and nine from East, the seven and queen from South. Which card do you lead at trick three?
You lead the ten of hearts. East plays the two and the ace wins. Declarer draws your trumps with the ace-king, East discarding the four of hearts and the two of diamonds, before playing a spade to the two and king. How do you defend?
Solutions to Test Your Defence
Since the opponents are both out of spades, you need to turn your attention elsewhere. Although dummy’s singleton diamond poses a threat, its club suit poses a greater threat.
If the missing clubs are 2-2, the suit is ready to run. If partner has three, a single ruff will set up the suit. If declarer can take the ruff early on and then draw trumps ending in dummy, it will be curtains.
Perhaps declarer is missing the queen of hearts, in which case it may not be possible to draw trumps ending in dummy. Even this does you no good unless partner has the ace of diamonds – declarer could otherwise afford to leave one trump out. Indeed the nine of spades on the second round looks like a suit-preference signal for a diamond, in which case you do not need to rely so much on the trump position. You should switch to the king of diamonds and play a second round, forcing dummy to ruff.
The original West gave little thought to the matter, winning the first spade and trying a low diamond. Ducking in dummy, declarer later finessed the jack, thereby avoiding a second spade loser.
‘I guessed the queen of spades was with the king,’ West wailed. ‘I knew there was a long spade to come and so had to lead that diamond. You could have held a better suit.’
East nodded. ‘True, you knew I had the king of diamonds or declarer would have played that suit before spades – but if you knew the spade layout, why rush to take your ace?’
‘What good does ducking do? There are plenty of entries to both hands, so it does not matter if declarer wastes one.’
‘By ducking you put us in a position to win two fast spade tricks. When you take the second spade and play a diamond, I can take the king and revert to spades, giving us our three tricks all at once.’