Test Your Defence Column by Julian Pottage
Originally published in, and reproduced here with permission of, Bridge Magazine
You lead the three of diamonds. Partner wins with the king and cashes the ace as the queen remains out. How do you plan to defeat this contract?
You lead the ace of diamonds, collecting the two, four and six. What do you lead at trick two?
Solutions to Test Your Defence
Looking at the four hands, how do you think the defenders let this contract make? They seem to be on course to score two black kings to go with their two diamonds.
Well, West played low on the second round of diamonds, after which East played a third. Declarer, knowing from the bidding (or lack of it in East’s case) that if the spade finesse were wrong then the club finesse would be wrong too, used a deceptive play. This was to lay down the ace of clubs, as if holding A-x-x and aiming to force someone with a doubleton honour to concede a ruff and discard. West fell for the trap, alertly dumped the king of clubs under the ace!
While it is true that East might have held ♣Q-10-x-x, there is no need to create the problem in the first place. West should have dropped the jack of diamonds under the king, clearly denying the queen. East could then have switched to the eight of clubs.
At one table in a match, West continued with the king and then the ten of diamonds. Declarer, Patrick Jourdain, ruffed the third round, drew trumps in three rounds and paused to take stock. Although a throw in of some sort seemed the only hope, entries did not permit going to dummy to ruff the last diamond.
Reading the position well, Jourdain played two more rounds of trumps, reducing to a five-card ending. West, to keep a guard with the king of hearts as well as the master diamond, had to come down to a doubleton club. Jourdain cashed the ace-king of clubs and then threw his remaining club on the last diamond. This forced West to play from K-x of hearts at trick twelve.
Playing standard signals, there is a way to prevent that line. East’s four of diamonds is either a singleton or from Q-4. In each case, it is safe to continue with a low diamond, ideally the ten as a suit-preference signal. This allows East to get in early and switch to a heart, breaking up the strip squeeze.