Eddie Kantar

Test Your Defense

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#91  Off to a good start?     (The  first six problems are all discarding problems)

Dlr: South
Vul: Both

                    North (dummy) 
                    S. 863
                    H. KQ10
                    D. KJ1084
                    C. 76        
                                       East (you)
                                       S. AQ92
                                       H. 97432
                                       D. 93
                                       C. 105

  South   West   North   East
  1NT*    Pass    3NT     All Pass 

Opening lead: C3 

Your C10 loses to declarer's jack. At trick two declarer leads the DQ which holds and a second diamond to dummy's jack, and now the DK is led from dummy and you must discard. What shall it be?


Your most discouraging heart. When the C10 loses to the jack, your partner, about to win the DA, knows you have played your highest club and now would like to know where your outside strength lies.  

By making a negative discard in hearts rather than a positive discard in spades, you have actually held on to the setting trick! If partner shifts to a low spade asking for a return in that suit you will rattle off four spade tricks.

In general when defending against notrump contracts negative discards are to be preferred. Why discard from a suit that could be the trick you need to defeat the contract? 

The West hand:  S. K54   H. 65   C. A72  C. Q8432 
The South hand: S. J107  H. AJ8  C. Q65  C. AKJ9

A sneaky declarer would have taken the first trick with the king making West think that his partner had the jack and might continue the suit after winning the DA if he had it. Declarer only needs two clubs to make this contract, what he doesn't need is a spade shift.

#92    Think of discards as messages

Dlr: South
Vul: N-S
                            North (dummy)
                            S. 1054
                            H. 986
                            D. KQ10
                            C. QJ82
West (you)
S. J92
H. Q
D. 9532
C. 76543

South     West     North     East
1S          Pass      2S         3H
4S          All Pass

Opening lead:  HQ

You partner overtakes with the HK, continues with the H10 which holds and then plays the HQ. Unless you want to trump one of partner's tricks, you have to make two discards. What shall they be? 


Before you make a discard(s), ask yourself what you want partner to lead.  On this hand you would like partner to play a 4th heart which will promote your SJ to the setting trick. The way to get a fourth heart is to make discouraging discards in both clubs and diamonds. A good partner will get the picture and come through for you with a fourth heart. 

The East hand:  S. 3             H. AKJ1072  D. J76   C. K109
The South hand: S. AKQ876  H. 543         D. A84  C. A

#93   Can you find it?

Dlr: North
Vul: East-West

                      North (dummy)
                      S. Q98
                      H. KJ
                      D. J743
                      C. J1075
                                        East (you)
                                        S. 7654
                                        H. 10654
                                        D. 106
                                        C. A92

North    East    South   West
Pass      Pass    1S*      Dbl.
2S          All Pass         * could be a four card suit in third seat.

Opening lead: DQ  (Queen from AKQ)   

You dutifully show a doubleton when partner continues with the king. Now partner plays the DA and it's your turn again. what will it be?


You should discard an encouraging club. If you play standard discards, discard the C9, if you play upside down discards, discard the C2. If partner has the magic holding of Kxx, your discard will enable your side to take the next three tricks. As you can see, it was the only defense if partner shifts to a low club at trick four. 

The West hand:  S. 32      H. Q987  D. AKQ5  C. K63
The South hand: S. AKJ10 H. A32    D.  962    C. Q84

Discarding down to shortness, (particularly Ax or Kx)  may be the key to getting a ruff and perhaps defeating the contract.   

#94  Give this one to your friends

Dlr: East
Vul: East-West
IMps                 North (dummy)
                        S. 1054
                        H. K9
                        D. J
                        C. KJ86432  

West (you)
S. 8
H. J105
D. 10986542

East    South   West   North
2S*     4H       All Pass

Opening lead: 8    

Partner wins the first lead with the Q, continues with the K and then the Ace. You, in the meantime, have to plan your defense. What will your plays be to tricks two and three?


This is your chance to make a newspaper column. If you discard your two clubs and partner leads a club you must  get a heart trick no matter what declarer does. Why hope that declraeer has a club when you can defeat the contract even if he void? 

The East hand:  S. AKQ962  H. 3              D. 73  C. 10975
The South hand: S. J73        H. AQ87642  D. AKQ  C. -

If South ruffs the club low, you overruff. If South ruffs high and then leads a low heart,  insert the just in case 10 your haven't held your cards back far enough! 

#95  Rerun

Dlr: South
Vul: N-S
                            North (dummy)
                            S. J876
                            H. 764
                            D. Q765
                            C. 102

West (you)
S. Q10
H. 93
D. KJ1098
C. J876

South    West    North    East
1C*       1D**   Pass      2H
2S         Pass    3S         Pass
4S         All Pass    * Strong and artificial  ** Your turn to bid

Opening lead: H9 

Partner wins the first trick with the HQ, continues with the HA, declarer following with the jack and plays a third high heart, declarer discarding the D2. You bid 1D because it was your turn to bid, now it is your turn to play.


First you should ask yourself what you want partner to lead next. Your answer should be a heart because it will promote the SQ to the setting trick. Next you have to ask yourself how to get this heart continuation. The most exciting way is to discard the DK!  The discard of any high honor denies holding the honor directly above it. Therefore, when you discard the DK, partner knows you don't have the ace. (You also would have led a high diamond holding the AK). Had you wanted a club shift you could have discarded a high club. A good partner will return a 4th heart in a 'heartbeat'. 

The East hand:  S. 95  H. AKQ1082  D. 43  C. 543
The South hand: S. AK432  H. J6  D. A2  C. AKQ9

#96  Your last great discarding chance

Dlr: South
 Vul: Both

                        North (dummy)
                        S. 92
                        H. KQ6
                        D. Q54
                        C. A8432

                                        East (you)
                                        S. QJ3
                                        H. 9752
                                        D. KJ1097
                                        C. 6

South   West   North   East
1NT      Pass    3NT     All Pass

Opening lead: S7    

You cover dummy's nine with your jack and declarer's king finished off the trick. At trick declarer leads the CJ to the ace and then a low club. Guess who has to make a discard?  What shall it be this time?


You may think you are dieing for a diamond shift, but your first obligation is to let partner know that the spade suit is running. If partner has led a fourth best spade, the rule of 11 tells you that declarer started with only one spade higher than the 5 which must be the king. You should discard the SQ, a card partner might think declarer has. After all, declarer would take the first trick with the king if he had KQx and then it would be right for you lead a spade through declarer. You have to let partner know that is not the case. 

The West hand: S. A10874  H. 843   D. 62    C. Q75
The South hand: S. K65       H. AJ10  D. A83  C. KJ109 

If you discard an encouraging diamond and partner switches to a diamond when in with the CQ, declarer has nine tricks; four clubs, three hearts, the SK and the DA. If you discard the SQ, partner takes four spades and a club to defeat the contract one trick.

#97  Show Off Your Stuff!

Dlr: East
Vul: N-S

                        North (you)
                        S. K1087
                        H. K10
                        D. K75
                        C. Q832
West (dummy)
S. 965
H. A94
D. AQJ82
C. K6

East   South   West   North
1C     Pass      1D      Pass
1NT   Pass      3NT     All Pass

Opening lead:  H4  

Dummy plays low, you pop up with the king and decalrer follows with the four. Your turn.


For starters it is a very good idea to add your HCP to dummy's.  If you do, you come up with 25. That means that there are 15 HCP outsanding and the opener needs at least 12. Conclusion your partner has at the most 3HC.    Furthermore, your partner cannot have a king because you can see all four of them! So partner is looking at either one queen or two jacks or three jacks at the most!

 Even so you have a chance at defeating this contract. If partner has the SQ and you are clever enough to shift to the S10 catering for declarer to have AJx and partner Qxx, you can establish three spade tricks and along with a heart and a diamond that's five tricks! Leading the S10 is called a making surrounding play'. Basically when you see the 9 to your right, typically singleton, doubleton or tripleton and you have the 9 'surrounded'  with the 108 plus the queen or king, attack with the 10. 

The South hand: S. Q32  H. J8732  D. 64  C. 1075
The East hand:    S. AJ4   H. Q54     D. 1093  C. AJ94 

Twist and turn as he might, that S10 is the killer switch. One to remember.

#98  Make a Plan!

Dlr: South
Vul: E-W

                    North (dummy)
                    S. J6
                    H. J105
                    D. AJ1087
                    C. KQ6 

                                      East (you)
                                      S. A832
                                      H. A43

                                      D. 4

                                      C. 108432                                          

South  West   North   East
1H       Pass   2D        Pass
3D       Pass   3H        Pass
4H       All Pass  

Opening lead: SK    

What is your plan? 


You plan should be to overtake partner's SK and shift to your singleton diamond. Furthermore, the first time hearts are led, even if it is the HJ from dummy, rise with the ace, put partner win with the SQ and ruff the diamond return. A very good plan.

The West hand:   S. KQ954 H. 82 D. 6532  C. J9
 The South hand: S. 107 H. KQ976  D. KQ9  C. A75

It's true that if you allow partner's SK to hold and partner shifts to a diamond , you will defeat 4H, the same way. However,  NEVER allow partner to do something you can do for yourself. Why take a chance?
Playing the S8 at trick one to encourage a spade continuation is an example of  considering one suit instead of the hand as a unit. In other words, looking at more than one suit at a time. 

#99 What 'Time' is it? 

Dlr: South 
Vul: Neither

                  North (dummy)
                  S. A7
                  H. QJ3
                  D. 743
                  C. KQ1098
West (you)
S. QJ1096
H. K84
D. AJ92
C. 4 

South   West   North   East 
1C        1S       2S *     Pass
2NT      Pass    3NT      All Pass 

*  Limit raise or better in clubs.
** Some game interest presumably with a spade stopper.

Opening lead: SQ

Declarer plays the SA from dummy, partner playing the 4,declarer the deuce, and runs the HQ to your king
partner contributing the deuce, standard count.  What time is it?


It's shift time!  Once declarer doesn't attack clubs you can assume he has the ace. Furthermore if he has any four clubs or the AJ of clubs and the HA, he is looking at 10 running tricks outside of diamonds: five clubs, three hearts and two spades. If partner's H2 showed five hearts, declarer still has nine tricks outside of diamonds: Five clubs, two hearts and two spades. No matter how you look at it, you need partner to have the DK to defeat this contract and should shift to the D2 pronto! 

The East hand:   S. 854  H. 762      D. K85 C. 7632
The South hand: S. K32  H. A1095  D. Q106  C. AJ5 

It is important to count declarer's tricks as the play develops.  Once you can see that declarer has enough tricks in three different suits to make the contract, shift to the fourth suit, it's your only chance!  Go for it!       

#100 The Grand Finale 

Dlr: South
Vul: Both

                   North (dummy)
                   S. QJ85
                   H. 95
                   D. AQJ10
                   C. AQ5  
                                       East (you)
                                       S. 972
                                       H. AK
                                       D. 7653
                                       C. J643

South   West  North  East
3H        Pass   4H      All Pass  

Opening lead: SA   (Ace from Ace-King at trick one)   Which spade do you play using your own methods.


If you play standard carding play the 9 to ask for a come-on. If you play upside down play the deuce to ask for a come-on. Why are you asking for a come-on? BECAUSE YOU DON'T WANT A SWITCH. You want your partner to try to cash a second spade before it goes off on a minor suit winner from dummy.  Sometimes it is necessary to give a false come-on to make sure partner DOESN'T shift. Amen

The South hand: S. 104     H. QJ108742  D. K2   C. K2
The West hand:   S. AK63  H. 63  D. 984  C. 10987 

Notice that if West doesn't cash a second spade, he won't take a trick with that card until the next hand.
Two spade tricks and two heart tricks are all you need to defeat four hearts, make sure you get them!  Thanks for hanging in there this long.


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