Test Your Defence Column by Julian Pottage
Originally published in, and reproduced here with permission of, Bridge Magazine
Partner leads the five of diamonds. Declarer wins with the king, crosses to the ace of hearts (eight from West) and returns a heart. You win with the queen while West throws the two of diamonds (remaining count). What do you lead next (I know you wish it was not your lead)?
Partner leads the ten of diamonds to the jack and ace. You return the two. Declarer throws a club from hand before playing ace, king and a third heart. West, who had ♥J-x, throws a diamond. What do you lead now?
Solutions to Test Your Defence
One way or another, you are in trouble. If, as looks to be the case, partner started with six diamonds, declarer will only be able to take the finesse there if you lead the suit. If you lead a diamond, declarer might win in dummy, ruff a diamond and put you on lead with a trump. After cashing another trump, you will have to make a losing lead in one of the black suits and be open to a squeeze.
What you want to do is to make three trump tricks and one of your black kings. This says to rule out a trump. The snag with a club is that declarer can take the ace-queen, throw a club on the DA and then set up a long club. Later, after making your trumps, you will have to lead into the spades.
The safe exit is a low spade. Although you will not make your king, you will come to a club trick and three trumps.
You find yourself endplayed again. Although partner just might hold the queen of clubs or the jack of spades, South has only 12 points even with both of those cards. Given the bidding, the layout is likely to be as shown.
When South has the queen-jack of spades, you certainly do not want to play a spade: you would blow your trick there.
A club is a better bet. If declarer puts you back in with the third round of clubs, you will be able to lead a diamond, expecting to make the king of spades later. However, declarer could play ace and another spade, leaving you with no recourse.
As Fred Esch, who held the East cards, worked out, you should lead a diamond. The ruff and discard is of limited value to declarer. You will be safe from a further endplay because you will have a completely safe exit with the fourth round of diamonds.