Test Your Defence Column by Julian Pottage
Originally published in, and reproduced here with permission of, Bridge Magazine
Partner leads the nine of clubs (second and fourth if from length) and dummy plays low. What card do you play at trick one? What is your plan for later?
West leads the five of spades to your ace. What card do you return?
Solutions to Test Your Defence
North has not underbid and the opponents may be in a thin game. Unfortunately, the omens do not look terribly good as your flat shape suggests the suits are breaking well. One bright note is the lack of a spade lead. This suggests West has the ace, in which case the queen could be waste paper.
Whether the club lead is from 10-9-x or from 9-x, it cannot help to play the jack on the first trick. In the first case, the nine and jack are equals. In the latter, declarer may have a slow club loser and you would not want to crash your side’s high cards. Play the two.
The next hurdle is in the trump suit. If you take your ace on the first round, declarer can draw a second round and later ruff the fourth club in dummy. You need to hold up so that you are in a position to play a third round, thereby preventing dummy’s ruff.
At the table, East switched to the jack of clubs, which ran to the king as West played a mildly encouraging five. Declarer then tried a low heart off dummy. East went in smartly with the ace and continued with the ten of clubs, which won. West is still waiting for East to play a third round of clubs.
‘Can’t you overtake the second club?’ East asked. ‘You can give me a ruff.’
‘How was I supposed to know that you didn’t have J-10-x? Overtaking would look silly if you did.’
‘I would have continued with the low one if I had J-10-x.’
West remained unconvinced. ‘I think I have a better idea. Rather than the jack of clubs, why don’t you lead the ten? When I see the jack next time, I know something is up.’
East reluctantly nodded.