Test Your Defence Column by Julian Pottage
Originally published in, and reproduced here with permission of, Bridge Magazine
You lead the ace of spades, on which East plays the two, suggesting an odd number. How do you continue?
You lead the three of hearts. Partner wins with the ace and returns the two. After ruffing South’s ten, what card do you lead?
Solutions to Test Your Defence
You can see three tricks in your hand. Since South has gone on to game after North’s pre-emptive raise, East will contribute little. You could just cash your winners and play a second diamond in the hope partner has either the king of diamonds or a trump trick (the ace of clubs will not be running away).
If you do that, declarer cashes a top trump and, seeing your queen fall, crosses to dummy with a spade ruff to pick up the trumps on a finesse.
To protect partner’s trump holding, you need to deny declarer a quick entry to dummy. This means you cannot cash the second spade. This in turn means you cannot play ace and another diamond – dummy’s second spade would go on the king of diamonds. You have the solution now I suspect. At trick two, you must switch to a low diamond. One way or another, the jack of hearts will score the setting trick.
Partner’s return of the two of hearts is a clear suit-preference signal for clubs. It must show either the queen of clubs or, more likely, a void.
Suppose you switch to a low club. Dummy plays low and East ruffs. Knowing that no dummy can overruff the third round of hearts and that no trump promotion is in the air, partner switches to a diamond, won by the ace perforce. Not long after, you will find yourself squeezed, unable to keep the king of diamonds and two clubs.
It would not help to leave the club suit alone. Declarer could easily arrange to draw trumps, cash the ace of diamonds and put you on play with a club. You would then have to set up the queen of diamonds or lead into the split club tenace.
You do need to give partner a club ruff and need to do so in a way that does not expose you to a squeeze. You should switch to the king of clubs. This leaves dummy without a late entry and so kills the squeeze.