Test Your Defence Column by Julian Pottage
Originally published in, and reproduced here with permission of, Bridge Magazine
You lead the eight of diamonds to the ace, two and three. On the first trump, East throws the three of hearts and South plays the king. What is your plan here?
You lead the eight of hearts to the ten and king. When declarer draws two rounds of trumps with the king and queen, East follows once before discarding the seven of hearts. Then a club goes to the nine and king, which you duck. Now declarer leads a second club. How do you defend?
Solutions to Test Your Defence
You have three tricks in your own hand: two trumps and a club. The long diamonds in dummy and the possibility that declarer can throw one of dummy’s clubs if holding A-x of hearts mean you must not just sit back.
Partner’s very low diamond at trick one looks like suit preference for clubs. You could just switch to ace and another club, settling for one down.
Particularly having doubled the contract, you would prefer to defeat it by two. If you can score two diamond ruffs, you can do so. You will need partner to hold the jack of clubs as well as the king and get in twice.
If you switch to the six of clubs, partner will hardly put in the jack. Instead, you lead the queen. Partner overtakes with the king and leads another very low diamond to give you a ruff. You then lead the low club to the jack to obtain the second ruff.
With dummy’s club suit now set up, clearly it will not work to play a trump. Declarer could just win in dummy and cash a club, throwing a diamond. Indeed an overtrick would be possible by ruffing the club and then pulling your last trump.
Might forcing dummy to ruff work? Suppose that partner holds the king and queen of diamonds, or K-J-10 and you underlead the ace. Declarer can ruff the second round in dummy and then cash a club. You just make two aces and a trump trick.
You need to employ a different strategy. You need to attack dummy’s ace of hearts entry. You cannot do that yourself because you have no hearts. You need to put partner on lead at the same time as suggesting that you want a high heart back as opposed to a diamond. You achieve this by switching to the eight of diamonds. You then throw your remaining club on the heart. After you ruff the third round of clubs, you play the ace of diamonds, killing dummy’s trump entry.