Test Your Defence Column by Julian Pottage
Originally published in, and reproduced here with permission of, Bridge Magazine
Partner leads the jack of hearts, which you win with the king. What do you return?
West leads the two of diamonds, covered by the seven, nine and ace. Declarer then runs the jack of spades to your queen. Which card do you return?
Solutions to Test Your Defence
Given the strong dummy, prospects seem poor. If you try giving West ♠Q-x-x and an ace on the side, South has only 11 points for the jump rebid to 3♠. Perhaps West could have ♠A-J-x, though even that leaves South with little to justify the jump rebid.
Sherlock Holmes famously said, ‘once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable must be the truth.’
If you cannot defeat the contract with high cards, you will need to find a ruff or two. Since you cannot ruff anything, the ruffs must be in your partner’s hand. With ten diamonds between your hand and dummy, you can guess where they will be.
At trick two, you switch to a diamond. West ruffs and puts you back in with the ♥A to score a second ruff – simply really.
The strength of your hand combined with the bidding marks partner with a near bust, leaving you almost on your own.
Two trump tricks are easy, as is a club trick after you have knocked out the ace. A fourth defensive trick requires more imagination.
There is no point switching to a heart in the hope of a ruff. Surely, partner has no entry. Instead, you must try for a club ruff, or at any rate make it look like you doing so.
If you switch to the ♣K, declarer might duck, playing you for ♣K-x, though you would not want to bet on it. A better shot is to lead the ♣Q. This should have all the hallmarks of a short suit.
Declarer may well duck this, making sure West cannot win the second round of clubs and give you a ruff. Remember, declarer may not need two club tricks as a ruffing finesse in diamonds will set up a discard.