Test Your Defence Column by Julian Pottage
Originally published in, and reproduced here with permission of, Bridge Magazine
Partner leads the king of hearts. What is your plan to defeat this contract?
West leads the king of spades to your ace. What card do you return?
Solutions to Test Your Defence
Assuming that South has one of the top clubs (from West’s failure to lead the suit), only four tricks are immediately visible: two hearts, a club and a diamond. Three heart tricks are not going to be possible because West will not have a hand that is two strong to open a weak 1NT or a hand with three four-card suits and a singleton club.
The way to defeat the contract is to make use of your trump intermediates, such as they are.
You should overtake the king of hearts with the ace and return a heart. You then ruff the third round of hearts with the seven, which South overruffs with the ten. West wins the first round of trumps and plays a fourth round of hearts. You can ruff that with your eight of diamonds. Partner’s king of clubs will be the setting trick.
Your side’s spade blockage is unfortunate. In the event that your partner has the ace or king of diamonds, you will be able to unravel it. More likely, declarer has those cards and a running club suit. In this case, you have to hope that partner has a doubleton club so that declarer has only ten immediate tricks (a heart, three diamonds and six clubs).
Suppose you exit passively with a diamond. Declarer can win, draw trumps, take two more diamonds and lead the jack of hearts. If partner ducks, so does dummy. Whether you then return the ten of hearts or a low one, dummy’s A-9-8 will give two tricks. If partner covers the heart, dummy wins and returns the nine, again putting you on play. The situation would be similar if South had the queen of hearts instead of the jack (then partner would not have the option to cover).
To avoid having to help declarer set up a trick later you must switch to the king of hearts at trick two.