Test Your Defence Column by Julian Pottage
Originally published in, and reproduced here with permission of, Bridge Magazine
Partner leads the three of spades, which you win with the jack. What do you return?
Partner leads the three of spades, which you win with the ten. Which card do you return?
Solutions to Test Your Defence
South’s cue bid of 4♠ and West’s lead of the three tell you the same thing – another round of spades is not going to stand up. The bidding also tells you that partner does not have a trump trick – South’s jump to 3♥ and later 5♠ have shown A-K-Q-x-x-x-(x).
The only real chance of a second defensive trick is in diamonds. Partner could have a doubleton or queen, giving declarer a slow loser in the suit. If this is the case, can you afford to relax? After all, you have the ♠A and the third diamond behind dummy.
The danger is a trump squeeze. In an ending with ♠Q-x and ♦A-K in dummy, what four cards can you keep? You need two spades or a ruff will set up the queen. You also need three diamonds or South’s third one will become high. You need to prevent this – switch to a low diamond.
Again, it is clear that a second round of spades will not stand up. Nor does it like right to continue the suit as a passive move: declarer may be planning a dummy reversal or to strip the spades prior to an endplay. If you are going passive, it should be with a trump switch.
Although the relatively flat dummy suggests you do not want to get busy, another feature does. Partner has your side’s length in the rounded suits and may succumb to a squeeze; declarer can ruff spades rather than hearts to conserve the threat cards. You want to attack the opposing entries.
If partner has ten-high clubs and a heart trick, your return matters little. The crucial layout is the one shown. A club return is no use – declarer wants to duck a club anyway. You need instead to attack the twin entry in the heart suit. Moreover, you need to do so in such a way as not to butcher partner’s slow heart trick. Switch to the ten of hearts.