Eddie Kantar

Test Your Defense

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#21  Trust

Dlr: East
Vul: East-West 

                            North (dummy)

                            S. J107
                            H. Q64
                            D. KJ5
                            C. KJ92

                                                     East (you)
                                                     S. A3
                                                     H. 92
                                                     D. A10843
                                                     C. 8543

East             South             West             North
Pass             1S                   Pass              2C (1)
Pass             2S                   Pass              3S (2)
Pass             Pass               Pass

(1) Not a game force
(2) Tempting to rebid 2NT

Opening lead: D2 (fourth best leads)

Answer each question before proceeding to the next.

1. Dummy plays the DJ, which diamond do you play?
You play the ace, declarer may have a singleton.

2. What do you return at trick two?

You decide that it is unlikely partner has a singleton diamond (South did not rebid 2D as he might with four diamonds), and switch to the H9, Declarer plays low, partner wins the HK and returns the H3 which is taken in dummy with the queen, declarer following with the jack.

3. At trick four the SJ is led from dummy. Which spade do you play?

You play the ace because you want to ruff a heart with your little spade.

4. What do you play now?


West hand:   S. 64   H. K10753  D. Q92    C. A75
South hand:   S. KQ9852   H. AJ8    D. 76  C. Q10

Return a club as partner requested. When partner returned the H3, the lowest missing heart, she was telling you that she had an entry in the lower ranking side suit, clubs. A club return followed by a heart allows you to ruff and defeat the contract one trick.


1. If declarer skips over a suit or suits to rebid his original suit, it is unlikely that declarer has four cards in that suit. However, if declarer has a strong six card suit and a minimum hand, declarer might elect to skip over a four card suit.

2. When looking at the ace of trump and a short suit, think "ruffs".

3. Don't be taken in by the play of the SJ from dummy, Don't forget your mission, You want to use your low trump to ruff a heart, Not only that, but you have a partner who has told you how you can get that ruff.

4. When partner leads a short suit and you win the trick, your return tells partner where your outside strength lies, If you have strength in the higher ranking side suit (in this case diamonds), lead back a high card in the suit partner has led, If your strength is in the lower ranking side suit (clubs), return your lowest card, If you have equal strength in both suits or no real preference for either suit, return a middle card and watch partner suffer trying to figure out whether it is a high one or a low one.

#22   Imaginative Rebid

Dlr: North
Vul: North-South

                        S. AKQ1098
                        H. 76
                        D. K65
                        C. A8 
                                                        S. J65
                                                        H.  K32
                                                        D. AJ10
                                                        C. K642      

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

Opening lead: C3

Declarer plays low from dummy and you win the king, declarer following with the 5, Right or wrong at trick two you return the C2, declarer plays the nine and partner the jack, At trick three a low diamond is led from dummy. Plan your defense.

Solution to #22

West hand:  S. 732    H. AJ82         D. 98           C. J1073
South hand:  S. 4       H. Q1094      D. Q7432    C. Q95

Rise with the DA and shift to a low heart, Your partner's play of the CJ denied the queen so there is no future in that suit, Furthermore, declarer must be trying to get to his hand to cash the CQ and run the spades, If you let declarer get away with this, declarer will score the DQ, cash the CQ and run the spades for nine tricks, Your best chance to defeat the contract is to rise with the DA and shift to a low heart looking for three or four tricks in that suit. As it happens, you can take three heart tricks, but that's enough to scuttle the contract.


1. When defenders play a high honor unnecessarily, they send partner a message, They are saying that they have the lower equals but no higher honor.

2. It is important that the defenders count declarer's tricks, You can see six spade tricks in dummy along with the CA for seven, If declarer has the likely DQ and you play a low diamond at trick three, you are conceding nine tricks: six spades, two clubs and one diamond, For shame.

#23   What's The Distribution?

See if you can work out as East declarer's distribution on the next two hands from the bidding and the opening lead (4th best leads).


                          North (dummy)
                          S. J8732
                          H. 64
                          D. AJ5
                          C. Q84

                                                S. Q65   
                                                H. Q108  
                                                D. Q943
                                                C. 1042

South         West         North         East
1C               Dbl            1S             Pass
1NT            Pass           Pass          Pass

Opening lead: D2

What is declarer's distribution and which diamond should you play if declarer's play low?


                       North (dummy)
                       S. 108732
                       H. KJ
                       D. AQ103
                       C. 87 East

                                                   East (you)
                                                   S. AQ94
                                                   H. 832
                                                   D. 76 
                                                   C.  A952                                                                           

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

Opening lead: C3

1. What is declarer's distribution?
2. Assuming you win the CA and declarer plays the 6, what do you play at trick two?


#1, Declarer has 2-4-2-5 distribution and this how you can figure it out.

You know from the lead that partner has four diamonds (led his lowest) so declarer must have 2. There are 8 hearts missing. If partner had five he would have bid them; if declarer had five he would have opened 1H, so hearts are 4-4. Partner must have 3 or 4 spades for his takeout double, If partner has four spades, declarer has one and would not have rebid 1NT with 1-4-2-6 distribution. Therefore, partner has three spades and declarer two. Voila, declarer has two spades, four hearts, two diamonds and five clubs . Are you having fun?

The normal play in diamonds with this holding at notrump is the nine. As it happens, this is the winning play.

Declarer's hand: Kx             Kxxx         xx             AKxxx
Partner's hand   A10x         AJ8x          K10xx         Jx


1. Declarer has 1-5-4-3 distribution. Declarer must have five hearts to open 1H, the second suit is assumed to be a four carder and the lead tells you that declarer has three clubs.  If this is all true, declarer has a singleton spade.

2. After you win the CA plunk down the SA and run off four spade tricks.  You defend so beautifully!

Declarer's hand: S. K    H. AQxxx . KJxx  C. KJx
Partner's hand:  S. J65  H. xxx    D. xxx  C. Q10xx


#24  An Inferential Test

Here are a few inferential suit combination problems followed by a question as to who has a particular missing honor. Since you can see your hand and dummy you will have a 50% of getting each question right, The idea is to score more than 50%.


                         North (dummy)
                         S. A74
West (you)
S. K10632

You lead a low spade against a heart contract, Dummy plays the ace, Who do you think has the queen?


                        North (dummy)
                        S. AQ63
West (you)
S. K1084

You lead a spade against a diamond contract, Dummy plays the queen, Who do you think has the jack?


                      S. J94
S. KQ108

You lead the SK against a club contract, Partner plays low and so does declarer. Who do you think has the ace?


                     S. QJ107
S. K843

Hearts are trump and early in the hand declarer leads a low spade, Who do you think the ace?


                    North (dummy)
                    S. A1076
S. K43

Spades is a side suit at a club contract, Early in the hand declarer leads a low spade from dummy to the queen and your king. Who do you think has the jack?


                  S. Q1043
S. K95

Spades are trump and declarer leads the ace and a low spade, Who do you think has the jack?


1. Partner, If declarer had it, he probably would have played low from dummy.

2. Partner, If declarer had the jack, he would have played low from dummy.

3 Partner should have the ace, If declarer had the ace he would have won the trick and led up to the jack for a second trick.

4. Partner, If declarer had it, he would have led the Q from dummy.

5. Partner, If declarer had the QJ he would have started by leading an honor from the closed hand.

6. Partner has it, doubleton, If declarer had it, he would have started spades from the dummy by taking a finesse.

#25   Test Your Third Hand Play

Third hand play, particularly at trick one, often time makes the difference between defeating the contract and allowing it to get home. Every bridge player should be familiar with basic third hand play. Just in case, here's a little quiz.

Assume you are East defending at notrump where the bidding has gone 1NT-3NT and your partner leads the S2.
In each case the S4 is played from dummy, Which spade do you play from each of the following seven holdings?

                      North (dummy)
                       S. 974

                                               East (you)
                                               #1.   S. KJ5

                                               #2.   S. J108

                                               #3.   S. QJ105

                                               #4.   S. J10

                                               #5.   S. 1086

                                               #6.   S. Q108

                                               #7.   S. 853


#1. The K, Third hand high with UNEQUAL high cards

#2. The 8, Lower or lowest of equal high cards, In this case, with the nine in the dummy, the 8 is the equal of the ten and the jack,

#3. The 10. The lower or lowest of equals.

#4. The 10.  The lower of equal honors even with a doubleton. There are two common exceptions to playing the lower or lowest of equal honors in third seat when dummy plays low.

(a)                North
West                                 East (you)
Jxxxx                                 KQ


At suit or notrump, partner leads low, and dummy plays low. Since you know you are going to win the trick, you can win with the king and return the queen, playing your equals out of order, to show a doubleton, However, you must be winning the trick. If dummy has low cards, play the queen because you can't be sure you are going to win the trick. Play the same with AK doubleton

 (b)               North

West                                East (you)
Kxxxx                                QJ or QJ10

                     xx or xxx

West leads low and dummy plays low, Since you can't be sure you are going to take the trick (see "a"), play your lower or lowest equal, However if dummy takes the trick, play your higher or highest equal to show you have at least one lower equal, So if dummy plays the ace, play the queen, Yes, of course, there is always the possibility you might have a singleton, nonetheless that's the way to play with equal honors when dummy takes the trick.

#5. The 6, Lowest of equals.
#6. The Q (See #1)
#7. The 3 With THREE worthless cards, play your lowest, Do NOT play third hand high.

  "Second hand low" and "cover an honor with an honor" are somewhat akin to "third hand high" and "always return partner's suit", These little adages may get you by, but won't see you through, Second hand must become familiar with basic positions and must try to foil declarer's plan, frequently by playing second hand high.

When you are the danger hand, play second hand high to prevent declarer from ducking the lead into partner's hand, Declarers hate defenders who do this.

                         North (dummy)
                         S: AK1095
                         H: Q94
                         D: 73
                         C: 876
West  (you)                              East
S: Q64                                      S: J87
H: J6                                         H: K108732
D: Q10965                                D: 8
C: QJ4                                      C: 932

                        S: 32
                        H: A5
                        D: AKJ42
                        C: AK105

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

Opening lead: Jack of Hearts

The play to trick one goes Jack, queen, king, ace.  On the assumption that partner has good hearts, you are the danger hand.  When a spade is led, play the queen, If dummy ducks, a heart is ruinous; if dummy wins, the spades are dead.

#26  Card Reader

Dlr: North
Vul: Both

                     North (dummy)
                     S. QJ62
                     H. AJ9
                     D. QJ43
                     C. AK

                                               East (you)
                                               S. A3
                                               H. KQ874
                                               D. A82
                                               C. 632

North         East         South         West
1D              1H          1S (1)           Pass
4S               All Pass

(1) At least five spades

Opening lead: H-10 
Declarer plays the jack from dummy and you win the queen. What now?


The West hand:  S. 54  H. 106   D. 9765     C. 98754
The South hand:  S K10987  H 532  D K10  C QJ10

You have three certain tricks and partner's lead of the H-10 with the H-9 in the dummy indicates shortness. Take the safe route, return a heart, and when in with the SA give partner a ruff, Notice that it is very dangerous to lay down the D-A or lead a low diamond at trick two hoping partner has the king and can return a heart, If you lay down the ace (a truly ugly play), declarer will unblock the king.  Now when you belatedly switch back to hearts, it is too late, Declarer wins in dummy and discards his last heart on a winning diamond before playing a spade. If you play a low diamond at trick two, declarer wins and knocks out the S-A, Either way you can kiss partner's heart ruff adios.


1. The lead of an honor when the next loser card is visible indicates shortness.

2. Holding the ace of trump gives a defender extra options, Here, you seemingly give away a trick by leading a second heart, but you know the setting trick will come back in the form of a ruff.

#27 Looking for Four

Dlr:   South 
Vul:   Both 

                      North (dummy)

                      S.  AQ
                      H. 1087
                      D, K8
                      C, KJ10952

                                         East (you)
                                         S, K95
                                         H, 93
                                         D, AQ105
                                         C, 8764

South     West     North     East
1H            Pass     2C         Pass
2H           Pass     4H        All Pass

Opening lead: D2 (fourth best leads)

Dummy plays the king and you cleverly win the ace. What now?


The West hand:   S. 108762    H. 64     D. J932        C. A3
The South hand: S. J43   H. AKQJ52    D. 764     C. Q

Return a low diamond. Partner must have the jack. If declarer had the jack, he would have played low at trick one as the opening leader seldom underleads an ace into an opening bidder (unless, perhaps, the dummy has bid notrump). What you need to defeat this contract is to find partner with the DJ, which is a given; have him switch to a spade, and find partner with either the ace of clubs or a the king or ace of hearts.  After all, you do need four tricks so you have to project a little something in your partner's hand, And yes, declarer blew the hand at trick one. Declarer also knows you have the DA and should play low from dummy at trick one to prevent you from putting partner in for a possibly disastrous spade switch.


1. Aces are seldom underled at trick one vs. suit contracts, Therefore if the king is played from dummy in the suit that has been led, it is a pretty safe bet that declarer does not have the jack. 
2. Ask yourself how many tricks you need to defeat the contract, and what is the least honor strength partner needs to defeat the contract, And then play as if partner has those cards.

Test  Your Third Hand Play

Bonus Problem

                         North (dummy)
                         S. 765
West (you)                                  East
S. J8432                                      S. 10

                         S. K

Against notrump you decide to lead the three of spades, dummy plays low, partner plays the ten and declarer takes the trick with the king, How do you read the suit?

Bonus Answer

Partner must have a singleton 10 and declarer the AKQ9

#28  What a Dummy

Dlr: South
Vul: Neither


                       North   (dummy)
                       S. 97
                       H. 97
                       D. 76543
                       C. 6543


                                                 East (you)
                                                 S. A32
                                                 H. QJ108
                                                 D. A102
                                                 C. J109

South  West   North    East
2C         Pass   2D         Pass 
2S         Pass   3C (1)   Pass
3H         Pass   3S         Pass 
4H         Pass   4S        All Pass

(1)  Artificial negative denying as much as one king.

Opening lead:  DQ      Plan your defense (Do you take the first trick?)


You had better take the first trick!  There is a good chance that declarer, marked with at least 10 major suit cards as a singleton DK. After winning the DA, shift to the ace and a trump to stop heart ruffs in the dummy. After this masterful defense, declarer has to  lose two hearts a spade and a diamond.

The West hand: S. 654  H. 32   D. QJ98  C. Q872
The South hand: S. KQJ108 H. AK654 D. K C. AK

Any other defense and South makes the hand easily by ruffing one or two hearts in the dummy.


When partner leads a queen, dummy has low cards. third hand has the ace and declarer has a known two-suited hand, third hand should rise with the ace in case declarer has a singleton king.

When dummy's only value suit shortness, a trump defense is usually called for. Club losers cannot get away.

When describing a 5-5 hand having bid each suit once, even if you get preference to the first suit (which could be made with a doubleton), and you are strong enough to bid again, rebid the second suit just in case partner has three cards in that suit. Remember, partner cannot support a second suit directly without four card support

It is a very common bidding error  NOT to rebid the second suit after receiving  first suit PREFERENCE. Don't fall into that trap.

Good defenders recognize certain dummy types and know how to react when they see one. Are you a good defender?

#29 Recognition and Reaction

Dlr: South
Vul: Both

                      S. KQ8
                      H. 543
                      D. 54 
                      C. AKQ108


                                        East (you)
                                        S. 32
                                        H. Q87
                                        D. A8762
                                        C. 976


South   West   North   East

1S        Pass   2C      Pass
2S        Pass   4S      All Pass

Opening lead:  DQ     Plan your defense


When declarer has an apparently solid trump suit and the dummy has a threatening (to say the least) side suit, the defenders must take their tricks QUICKLY. In other words, an active rather than a passive defense is called for.

On this hand active means winning the opening lead and shifting to specifically the HQ. Why the queen?  You need three fast heart tricks and in order to get them you have to play partner for the AJ10 of hearts. If you lead a low heart and declarer has the nine, he can duck the trick into partner's hand.  Your thoughtful switch is rewarded because these are the hidden hands:

The West hand: S. 75  H. AJ106  D. QJ9  C. J532
The South hand:  S.  AJ10964  H. K92 D. K103 C. 4


An active, attacking, defense is called for when dummy tables with a powerful side suit plus an apparently "loserless" trump suit.

When defending notrump and dummy comes down with a long powerful suit, you had better count their tricks... quickly!  The AJ10 is the least you need here. If partner had the AK of hearts he would have led the suit. If declarer has the HA, you have no chance, ditto if declarer has K10x of hearts.  What you can't do is lead a low heart allowing declarer to stick in the 9 with  K9x.

#30 Are You Counting?

Dlr: South
Vul: Both


                        North  (dummy)  
                        S. 87
                        H. J10
                        D. AKJ972
                        C. J95


                                                East  (you) 
                                                S. AJ104
                                                H. 9632
                                                D. 65
                                                C. A72

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

Opening lead:  H2

Dummy takes the first trick with the HJ, cashes the DA and leads the CJ at trick three. Plan your defense.


Rise with the CA. There is just too good a chance that declarer is trying to steal a ninth trick holding the HA and partner the SK. On the other hand, if partner has led from the H AQxx of hearts you can take five quick tricks:  three hearts and two black aces.

To cater to both  possibilities, take the CA and play the SA. If partner signals encouragement, (he will) continue with the SJ.  If partner discourages in spades, return a heart,

The West hand:  S. K652  H. K874  D. Q8  C. 1063
The South hand: S. Q93 H. AQ5 D. 1043 C. KQ84


Counting declarer's tricks from trick one (not always possible) pays big dividends, particularly when dummy has a long strong suit and declarer may be out  there stealing the contract fulfilling  trick before you have gotten your act together,

 If you can make a play (SA) that allows for two possible hands partner may have to defeat the contract, you are probably making the right play.


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