Test Your Defence Column by Julian Pottage
Originally published in, and reproduced here with permission of, Bridge Magazine
You lead the four of clubs – low, queen and ace. After crossing to the ace of diamonds (six from East), declarer runs the jack of hearts, on which partner plays the seven. What card you lead to the third trick?
You lead the ace of clubs – queen, seven and two. How do you continue?
Solutions to Test Your Defence
Your first thought might be, ‘if partner has the king of clubs, the suit is running and we can beat the contract by a couple of tricks.’ Has anything happened to tell you that this is not the case?
There are a couple of clues from declarer’s play. One is that most people would find it hard to resist holding up the ace of clubs. A better one is the heart play. Why play on hearts without a club stopper? If playing on hearts, why not put up the king, when there is a chance of not losing the lead?
An even stronger clue is East’s seven of hearts on the first round, a very high card in context. This could well be a suit-preference signal for spades.
You should switch to a spade. Moreover, as what you want is a club back rather to set up South’s spades, you switch to the seven. East can win and revert to clubs.
Dummy’s unblock of the queen of clubs is rather revealing. For one thing, it seems that South has the suit well held.
You might think of switching to a heart, a suit in which South is likely to be weak. With two entries, the ace of diamonds and the king of clubs, you should have time both to knock out the ace-king of hearts and to regain the lead.
Can you see a problem with a heart switch? Since you have only three hearts, if declarer takes the first heart and holds up next time, you will get to make only one heart trick.
While placing East with the queen of hearts is a sensible move, you need to focus on disrupting communications. You could play king and another club, though that would risk giving declarer the rest of the club suit. Can you see how to shut out the diamonds and restrict declarer to a solitary club trick? You continue with a low club. Later you can take the ♣K and ♦A before locking the lead in dummy.