Test Your Defence Column by Julian Pottage
Originally published in, and reproduced here with permission of, Bridge Magazine
You lead the four of spades, covered by the nine, king and ace. Declarer cashes the ace-king of hearts and three top clubs, East following each time. Then comes the ten of spades to your queen (seven from East). What do you lead next?
You lead the king of hearts. The ace wins and partner plays the two (discouraging). A heart comes back to the four, nine and ten. You exit with a low trump, won by the ten. Then comes a second round of trumps, to which East follows again. What do you do?
Solutions to Test Your Defence
The original West switched to the king of diamonds. This was not a success.
‘Why did you do that?’ East enquired.
‘I was trying to make things easy for you if you had the queen. It looked like either black suit would be giving a ruff and discard, so I didn’t think I had any choice.’
‘”Didn’t think” seem to be the operative words, more like. While it’s true I could have had K-7-5 of spades when a spade exit would have given a ruff and discard, you should have done some counting. South does have to have thirteen cards you know.’
‘No need to be like that. Perhaps I did get it wrong. If South were 2=5=3=3 as I thought, I could afford to give a ruff and discard.’
‘Yes, and as it was, when he was just trying to bamboozle us, the spade was safe too.
At the table, West played back a trump. The declarer won in hand, trumped a heart and played four rounds of diamonds, throwing two clubs from hand. With nothing but clubs left, East had to give a trick to the queen.
North smiled, ‘Well played.’
‘Thank you, I knew from West’s initial pass that the king was over the queen. That’s why I played it as I did.’
‘Pity the defence wasn’t as good as the play,’ East observed wryly. ‘That third round of round of trumps was a total disaster. I had to throw my exit card in hearts.’
‘Can’t declarer play a third spade anyway?’ West retorted.
‘Yes he could – you needed to switch to a low club. I did play the four of hearts on the second round of the suit trying to tell you I had something in clubs. So long as you have 10-9-x or 10-8-x, we can afford to play the suit once.’