Test Your Defence Column by Julian Pottage
Originally published in, and reproduced here with permission of, Bridge Magazine
You lead the five of hearts. Partner wins with the king and switches to the five of spades, covered by the ten and queen. What do you lead next?
You lead the four of spades, won in dummy with the eight. Declarer cashes the ace-king of clubs (five-two from East), ruffs a club and plays a diamond to the four and nine. Winning with the ten, how do you continue?
Solutions to Test Your Defence
This deal comes from the Charity Challenge, a simultaneous pairs event now organised by Mr Bridge. Some pairs bid and made 3NT or 4♥. As it was game all, three down for 800 would be a top.
Hampshire’s John Shergold, playing at the Basingstoke bridge club, could see that dummy was now out of hearts and was thus threatening to ruff a heart. How could he prevent the ruff without damaging his own trump holding? The solution was to lead the eight (or nine of spades), leaving himself with a tenace in the suit.
Getting the possibly crucial third undertrick was then down to East. He had to throw a heart on the second spade (easy enough to do), win the second round of clubs (knowing that West could ruff the third round) and exit with a low diamond. This way declarer would eventually have to play a heart from the queen.
The theme here is similar to that of the companion deal: how do you prevent a ruff in dummy without jeopardizing your own trump position?
It is clear (from partner’s gentle high-low, if not the bidding) that declarer does indeed hold a fourth club. This time leading another trump from your side of the table is out of the question.
Since it looks like partner has the queen, you might try a diamond. However, even if declarer ducks in dummy and so allows East an entry, a long diamond could come into play. Indeed, if the four is true count, the suit must be 4-3-3-3 round the table.
A better bet is to play partner for the king of hearts. What is more, as declarer appears to have a singleton heart (with five spades, four clubs and three diamonds you presume elsewhere), you must underlead your ace. Later you will duck the second diamond and either partner has an entry to the fourth club or (if the ♦A wins) dummy is dead.