Eddie Kantar

Test Your Defense

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#11 Magic

Dlr: East
Vul: East-West

                           North (dummy)
                           S. A65
                           H. 87
                           D. KQ4
                           C. AKJ76

                                                 East (you)
                                                 S. K8
                                                 H. KQJ6543
                                                 D. 106
                                                 C. 83

East         South         West         North
3H             Pass         Pass             Dbl.
Pass         4S             All Pass

Opening lead: HA

Partner continues with a heart to your jack, all following. Now what?


West hand:   S. J94    H. A2    D. 9532   C. 10954
South hand:  S. Q10732   H. 109  D. AJ87   C. Q2

You certainly have to credit South for the DA to justify the leap to 4S, so the only chance for the defense is to try to promote two trump tricks. In order to do this you must play a third heart.

There are several spade holdings that partner might have that will do the trick, including J9x (J10x, Q7x, and Q10 doubleton are three others). What can declarer do?    If declarer discards, partner ruffs with the nine driving out the ace. Now when a spade is led you win the king and play a 4th heart promoting partner's SJ to the setting trick.

If declarer ruffs with the ten, partner overruffs with the jack and now when you get in with the SK, a 4th heart promotes the S9 to the setting trick.

If declarer doesn't ruff the third heart and partner doesn't uppercut dummy, the hand can be made. Dummy ruffs low and a low spade is led, declarer playing you for the king. Now when you rise with the king only one trump trick is available as the second promotion is no longer available with the SA in dummy.


When it is clear that there are no side suit tricks available, giving declarer a ruff and a sluff often promotes an extra trump trick for the defense. At least think about it.

#12  A Player's Play

Dlr: North
Vul: Neither

                           North  (dummy)
                            S. AKJ
                            H. AQ7
                            D. 82
                            C. QJ1097

                                                     East (you)                   
                                                      S. 83
                                                      H J63
                                                      D. AQJ95
                                                      C. A32

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

(1) Evaluating the hand as too strong to open a 15-17 notrump.

Opening lead:   D7 Dummy plays the D8, plan your defense.


West hand:   S. 109752  H. 10952   D. 74  C. K6
South hand:  S. Q64  H. K84  D. K1063   C. 854

Did you find the play of the D9 at trick one?   The idea is to realize that declarer has two diamond stoppers and your best chance is to play partner for the CK and allow partner to keep that remaining diamond, Declarer can do no better than win the D10 and lead a club. Now all partner has to do is step up smartly with the K and return a diamond allowing you clear the suit while you still have the CA. Down one.


When partner leads from a likely doubleton (with 7xx, the proper card to lead is low in an unsupported suit) in your long suit against a notrump and declarer has two stoppers in the suit, it is usually better
to allow declarer to win the first trick allowing partner to keep his remaining card in case he has an early entry.  Had you supported diamonds, the proper card to lead is the 7 as partner  knows of your length.   


Dlr: South
Vul: Both

                        North (dummy)
                        S. Q98
                        H. KQ
                        D. 832
                        C. QJ1095

West (you)
S. K6
H. A75
D. J1096
C. 8732

South         West         North         East
1NT             Pass         3NT         All Pass

Opening lead: DJ

Partner plays the 4 and declarer wins the king, Declarer cashes the CA & CK, partner following high-low, and then leads a low heart, What is your plan?


East hand:   S. AJ102  H. J863    D. 754     C. 64
South hand: S. 7543  H. 10942    D. AKQ  C. AK

Better win that HA and shift to the SK! Partner's discouraging diamond has told you that declarer has the AKQ for three tricks, you can also see five club tricks coming along with a heart for nine, Your only chance is to win the HA and hope for a miracle in spades, Actually it isn't such a miracle, Declarer has 16 HCP in the minors and cannot have more than the SJ, On a good day partner will not only have the SJ, but the S10 as well! As it happens, you take four spades and a heart. Down one.

When you play the SK, partner must play the S2. If partner plays a higher spade, he is signaling with the setting trick!


When holding three equals (the DAKQ), it is usually most deceptive to win the trick with the middle equal. Also, if you have three equals (QJ10) in the suit that is led and your RHO takes the trick, again it is most deceptive to play the middle equal.

Do not waste a high card to signal encouragement if that card can cost you a trick, This is particularly true when you have four cards and an opponent also has four.

When an honor card is led, third hand normally signals encouragement holding an honor, When third hand does not signal encouragement, the opening leader normallys assumes declarer has the missing honors.

#14  Tournament Hand

Dlr: West
Vul: East-West

                        North (dummy)
                        S. 74
                        H. A876
                        D. A76
                        C. AQ109

                                              East (you)
                                              S. 93
                                              H. K9
                                              D. K1032 
                                              C. 87652 

West         North         East         South
1S             Dbl,            Pass         3H
Pass         4H             All Pass

Opening lead: SA (A from AK)

Which spade do you play at trick one and what is your defensive plan?


West hand: S. AKQJ65   H. 54      D. J98       C. 43
South hand: S. 1082  H. QJ103D. Q54      C. KJ

Bidding Commentary:     South's jump to 3H is invitational showing 9-11 revalued points, When responding to a takeout double, add 1 point for any unbid four card major, two points for any unbid 5 card major. 

Lead Commentary: A from AK at trick one is a popular lead convention, After trick one the king is led from the AK.

Defensive Commentary: Play a low spade at trick one, You do not want to encourage your partner to play three rounds of spades. If declarer has strong hearts, he can ruff the third round with the ace, drive out your king and discard diamond losers on dummy's clubs. What you want is a diamond switch BEFORE your HK is driven out, After partner cashes two spades and sees your low-high, he should shift to the logical suit, diamonds, If he does, declarer is slated for a one trick set.

P.S.   When this hand was played in a tournament with a hand-picked field, none of the defenders in the East chair found the play of a low spade at trick one. Did you?

#15   Are You Ready for This?

Dlr: South
Vul: Both

                       North (dummy)
                       S. 8643
                       H. A10
                       D. QJ4
                       C. AQ108

West (you)
S. A102
H. Q65
D. 10987
C. 654

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

Not enamored with a spade lead, the unbid suit, you try the D10. Dummy plays the jack, partner the five, and declarer the deuce. At trick two the HA is played and at trick three the H10 overtaken by declarer's jack. You take the trick with the queen, partner having first played the deuce and then the eight. What now?


East hand:  S. K975  H. 832    D. 53    C. KJ93
South hand:  S. QJ    H. KJ974D. AK62     C. 72

Declarer has shown a minimum opening bid almost certainly with five hearts and four diamonds. If declarer had one spade and three clubs, he would have rebid 3C over 2S. Ergo, declarer has three spades and one club or two spades and two clubs. Time to count tricks. Partner's play of the D5, count, has certainly denied a diamond honor which means declarer has four diamond tricks available. In addition, declarer surely has KJ9xx of hearts for a total of four tricks in that suit.

 Bottom line:    Declarer has eight red suit winners to along with the CA for nine big ones the next time he gets in, If this hand is to be beaten, it must be beaten in spades- right now!

In order to garner four spade tricks, you must project four spades in partner's hand headed by at least the king. The problem is not to block the suit. When holding three cards headed by two non-adjacent honors, lead the lower honor. If you lead the S 10, the only card in your hand that defeats the contract, partner plays the king, returns a low spade to your ace and when you return your last spade partner is hovering over dummy's 86 with the 97 for a grand total of four spade tricks. You defend so beautifully.


As third hand give count when you can't beat dummy's play of a queen (or lower) at trick one. (D5)

Holding three cards headed by two non-adjacent honors (A10x, AJx, K10x, KJx, Q10x) attack with the lower honor if four tricks are needed and both partner and your left hand opponent have four cards in the suit.  (S10)

#16   Returning the Favor

Dlr: South
Vul: North-South

                       North (dummy)
                       S. Q752
                       H. 962
                       D. KQ
                       C. QJ108

West (you)
S. 1083
H. KQ1043
D. 752
C. 95

South         West         North         East
1S               Pass         3S (1)         Pass
4S             All Pass

(1) Limit Raise

Opening lead: HK

Partner overtakes and returns the HJ. You return the favor by overtaking the jack to play the H10 which lives, partner discarding the C2. What do you play next?


East hand:   S. K,  H AJ    D. 1098643   C. 7632
South hand:  S. AJ964   H. 865   D. AJ   C. AK4

Play a 4th heart. Partner has already discouraged in clubs and his failure to cash the DA before leading a second heart announces nothing in that suit either. Your only chance is to play partner for a singleton jack, queen or king of spades. Of course partner has to be smart enough to play that card when you lead your 4th heart. If she comes through for you, your S10 promotes to the setting trick. That S8 in your hand is  a big card.


Use partner's attitude signals to help plan your defense.

A failure by partner to cash a winner in a situation where it surely must be right to cash that winner denies holding that winner.

Once you determine that NO tricks are coming from the side suit(s) look to the trump suit for relief. Consider uppercut possibilities with trump holdings that can be promoted if partner can trump something with a high enough trump, This may mean giving declarer a ruff and a sluff. Do it!

Ruffs and sluffs are useless to declarer if she has no side suit losers.

#17    Teaser

Here's a little defensive teaser for you, not too hard but not too easy either.

Dlr: South
Vul: Neither

                         North (dummy)
                         S. AQ
                         H. QJ987
                         D. 1054
                         C. Q54

                                              East (you)
                                              S. J32
                                              H. 1065
                                              D. AK82
                                              C. K103

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

Opening lead: DQ

You signal encouragement and partner continues with the DJ which you overtake with the king and then cash the A, all following. What do youplay at trick four?


West hand:  S. 104  H. K432  D. QJ9  C. 8762 
South hand: S. K98765  H. A  D. 763  C. AJ9

Did you find the 13th diamond play?    It can't hurt no matter how the cards are divided and could be the killer if partner can insert a spade to drive out an honor from dummy. If so, your SJ promotes to the setting trick. In the diagram position your partner has the S10 so the contract is defeated at once. Even if partner has the S9, declarer holding K108xxx of spades has to guess which spade to ruff with to prevent a trump promotion.

The worst that can happen is that declarer can ruff high enough in his own hand to prevent partner from upper-cutting dummy. And if that happens you have lost nothing as declarer still remains with whatever loser(s) he had.

If you return anything other than a diamond, declarer, if sufficiently inspired, can use both spade entries to dummy to take the double club finesse and land the contract.


Consider the "uppercut" of dummy's trump holding as a means of possibly promoting an extra trump trick.

 #18    Defending Against a Two-Suiter

Dlr:   South
Vul:   Neither

                         North hand (dummy) 
                         S. K97 
                         H. 865 
                         D. Q109 
                         C. AK107

                                                         East hand (you) 
                                                         S. AQ5
                                                         H. Q4 
                                                         D. 653 
                                                         C. QJ965  

South             West             North             East
1H                     Pass             2C                 Pass
2D                     Pass             2NT               Pass
3D                     Pass             4H                 Pass
Pass                 Pass

Opening lead: S3 (fourth best leads) Dummy plays low and you win the Q, declarer playing the J.
Plan your defense.


West hand:  S. 108432  H. K92  D. J7  C. 843
South hand: S. J6  H. AJ1073  D. AK842  C. 2

Your best bet is to hope partner has the A9x or K9x of hearts in which case you can use your HQ to uppercut an unsuspecting declarer, Cash the SA, (it must cash as partner can have no more than five spades) and play a third spade. Declarer can do no better than win in dummy and lead a heart to the Jack and king. Now if partner is with it, partner returns a 4th spade, you play the HQ driving out declarer's ace, and partner's H9 becomes the setting trick, Neat.


When it appears that the setting trick must come from the trump suit, using a trump honor to uppercut and weaken declarer's trump holding should be a high priority thought.

#19    Expert Partner

Dlr: South
Vul: East-West

                      S. 102
                      H. Q7654
                      D. K73
                      C. Q106
West (you)
S. 9
H. 1032
D. AQ1092
C. J872

South         West             North             East
1S                 Pass             1NT               Pass
3S                 Pass             4S                  Pass
Pass             Pass

Opening lead: C2

Dummy plays the 10, partner wins the king, declarer playing the four, and shifts to the DJ, declarer playing the D5. 
Plan your defense.


East hand:   S. 8753   H. A7   D. J4      C. AK953
South hand: S. AKQJ64 H. KJ10     D. 865     C. 4

Both players made marginal overbids and now it's up to you to teach them a lesson.

Partner cannot have a singleton diamond. If partner had a singleton diamond, he would have won the first club with the ace to make sure you thought declarer had the king. Knowing partner has a doubleton diamond, your best defense is to signal encouragement and allow dummy to win the king, keeping a diamond in partner's hand for later communication.

As it turns out, declarer has to drive out the HA after drawing trump, and if partner still has that odd diamond, he can return it allowing the good guys to take two diamonds, one heart and one club.


When partner leads a suit in which you have the ace-king as well as a side suit singleton and your plan is to switch to your singleton, win the opening lead with the ACE, planting the thought in partner's mind that declarer has the king, and then switch to your singleton, If you win the opening lead with the king and then shift to an obvious short suit, partner should play you for a doubleton.

#20    Pushing Them Around

Dlr: South
Vul: Neither

                            North (dummy)
                            S. Q87
                            H. J103
                            D. KQ4
                            C. 7654

                                              East (you)
                                              S. 64
                                              H. A42
                                              D. A108653
                                              C. KJ

South         West             North             East
1NT (1)         Pass             Pass             2D
2H (2)           Pass             3H             All Pass

(1) 15-17
(2) Five card suit

Opening lead: D2 (Answer each question before going on to the next.

1. Dummy plays a low diamond at trick one. Which diamond do you play?

You take your ace and declarer follows with the jack.

2. What do you lead to trick two?

You switch to the S6, Declarer plays low, partner wins the SK and returns the SJ which declarer wins in dummy.

3. Declarer leads the HJ from dummy, What do you do now?


West hand:  S. KJ932   H. 76      D. 2        C. 109832
South hand  S. A105   H. KQ985 D. J97     C. AQ

This is not the time to duck! Win the HA, return a diamond for partner to ruff and ruff partner's spade return.


When on lead holding the trump ace (not yet knocked out) and knowing partner can ruff something, it is important to know how many trump partner has, If partner only has a doubleton trump, partner can only get one ruff unless you have another sure side suit entry to go along with the ace of trump. If you don't, look around to see if maybe you can ruff something BEFORE giving partner a ruff. For example, here you engineered a spade ruff by voiding yourself in spades before giving partner a diamond ruff, Neat.

When a notrump bidder introduces a suit after partner has passed, assume a five card suit, minimum. In the case of a minor, it might even be a six card suit!   After all, a hand like this frequently is opened 1NT:
S. Kx         H. Axx             D. Kx         C. AJ9xxx



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