Test Your Defence Column by Julian Pottage
Originally published in, and reproduced here with permission of, Bridge Magazine
Partner leads the two of diamonds to the seven and ace. Declarer plays the eight of clubs to the two (standard count), king and ace. What do you lead next?
Partner leads the queen of clubs. Do you overtake? If so, which card do you return?
Solutions to Test Your Defence
One option is to return a diamond. Perhaps partner has something promotable in trumps or perhaps declarer will misread the layout and fail to ruff. Of course, given all the high cards you can see, South must have very good trumps to justify bidding so strongly. In this case, a diamond return will achieve little beyond passivity.
You will find that declarer ruffs high, ruffs a club in dummy and runs all the trumps. Reduced to four cards, you will find yourself unable to keep three cards in hearts as well as two diamonds.
How can you break up the squeeze? You have to attack entries. Switch to the queen of hearts. Although you give up a heart trick, declarer cannot pick up the hearts, take a club ruff in dummy and cash the king of diamonds – partner’s trumps put a stop to that last element.
It is all too easy to sit back – I have an ace and a trump trick – so long as I do not do anything daft, the contract is failing.
Let us suppose you put up the ace of clubs and return the suit. Declarer wins, crosses to the ace of diamonds and runs the jack. Then comes a club ruff, a heart to the ace, the king of hearts and a heart ruff. After that comes a spade to dummy and another heart ruff. Declarer returns to dummy with a second spade, finishing with the K-10 of trumps over your Q-x.
How can you break up the trump coup? If you switch to a heart and declarer plays a trump, this might work. Of course, declarer can take a heart ruff before touching any trumps. Then there are still sufficient entries to take three ruffs and return to dummy at the end. You must lead a spade instead. Moreover, as South has the jack of spades, you must lead the queen of spades. This protects your ‘sure’ trump trick.