Test Your Defence Column by Julian Pottage
Originally published in, and reproduced here with permission of, Bridge Magazine
You lead the jack of hearts, holding the lead when dummy plays the six, East the eight and South the four. How do you continue?
You lead a trump. East wins with the ace and returns a trump. Declarer wins in dummy and runs the king of diamonds, throwing the jack of hearts. Having won this with your ace, what card do you lead?
Solutions to Test Your Defence
This is a deceptive layout. The flat dummy suggests defending passively. Suppose you continue with a second heart. Declarer ruffs (high), draws trumps ending in dummy and plays a club. The fortunate layout of the club suit means that declarer makes two club tricks, throwing a diamond from dummy on the long club. The defenders make two clubs and a heart but nothing else.
To defeat the contract you need to switch to a diamond at trick two. Since declarer will have to lose the lead twice in setting up the club suit, you will be able to set up and cash a diamond as the setting trick.
How do you know to switch to a diamond rather than club? The clue here is your own diamond holding. If declarer had a fourth diamond rather than a fourth club, the suit would pose no danger – you would have the fourth round covered and there would be no long diamond for declarer to develop.
The original West switched to a heart, which went to the ten and ace. Declarer drew the last trump and led a club. West went up with the king and tried a heart. Declarer ruffed and led a club to the queen. There were then more than enough winners for making the contract.
‘It does not help if I duck the club,’ West noted. ‘There are two winning diamonds in dummy’.
East nodded. ‘You found the best lead. There was nothing we could do.’
‘May I make a suggestion?’ a kibitzer asked. ‘Suppose you lead the three of clubs when you are in with the diamond. If declarer wins in dummy and tries to cash two diamonds, you ruff the third round and exit safely with a heart, making a club later. Even if declarer takes the inspired view to cash only one diamond before ruffing a diamond and then running the trumps, you can escape a possible endplay so long as East keeps the nine of clubs.’