Eddie Kantar

Test Your Defense

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#51  Why? 

Dlr: South

Vul: E-W


                  S. J108763

                  H. K

                  D. KJ104

                  C. 104            


West (you)

S. 2

H. QJ94

D. A765

C. AQ72

South  West  North  East

1S        Dbl.    4S      All Pass

Opening lead:  HQ 

Dummy's king wins and a low diamond is led to partner's deuce and declarer's nine. Plan your defense.


Win the ace and lead a spade to partner's ace so partner can lead a club through declarer's king. How do you do know partner has the SA?  If declarer had it, why didn't he lead a spade at trick two to get to his hand to pitch a club on the HA? Elementary, my dear Watson.

The East hand:   S. A          H. 76532  D. 832  C. J653

The South hand: S. KQ954  H. A108    D. Q9   C. K98


#52  Which Way to Go?

Dlr: South

Vul: Neither

IMP scoring


                 S. 532

                 H. KJ8

                 D. J10 

                 C. QJ1084  

                                   East (you)                 

                                   S. A764

                                   H. 6

                                   D. AK54

                                   C. 7653

   South   West   North   East

   1S         Pass   2S        Pass

   4S         All Pass

   Opening lead: D3  (you play 4th best leads). 

You win the king as declarer follows with the seven. What now?


Solution:  Partner either has a doubleton diamond (unlikely) or has led from Qxxx(x).

It would be rare for partner to lead a low card from a length suit that is not headed by an honor. Assuming partner has the DQ, your defense is marked. Shift to a heart at trick two, win the third spade to see a couple of partner's discards. and unless something dramatic happens, undelead the diamond ace to get a heart ruff, the setting trick.        

The West hand:   S. 8           H. 9742      D. Q8632  C. K92

The South hand:  S. KQJ109  H. AQ1053  D. 97CA   C. A  


The lead of a low card in an unbid suit, if not from shortness, should promise an honor card. With four or five small, second highest, by agreement, is usually led.

When holding the trump ace, having already led your singleton, and needing but one ruff to defeat the contract, it may pay to hold up the ace one or two rounds watching partner's discards to determine partner's "entry suit". However, if you need two ruffs to defeat the contract, win the trump ace while you have at least two rump left in your hand.

#53    Piece of Cake

Dlr: East

Vul: Both


                    S. 653

                    H. KJ8

                    D. Q1052

                    C. Q83

                                    East (you)

                                    S. K109742

                                    H. A5

                                    D. A5

                                    C. J109

East   South   West   North

1S      1NT      Pass    2NT

Pass   3NT     All Pass

Opening lead:  SQ

Which spade do you play, and what is your plan?


If you don't overtake the SQ, you won't need a plan! Decarer with a likely AJx of spades will duck the queen and now declarer will have time to drive out both of your red aces before you can set up your spades. If you overtake, you will have time to set up your spades before both red aces can be driven out.


The West hand:  S. Q    H. 76432  D. 763   C. 6542

The South hand: S. AJ8  H. Q109   D. KJ98  C. AK7


A 1NT overcall has a slightly larger range than a 1NT opening bid. It checks in at a good 15 to 18.

Do NOT signal partner encouragement to continue the suit that has been led if there is a good chance that partner may not have another card in the suit-and you can defeat the contract by overtaking. Amen to that one.

#54    Marshalling Your Forces

 Dlr: South  

Vul: None


                          S. Q5

                          H. AQJ

                          D. KJ6

                          C. Q6432

                                              East (you)

                                              S. 97

                                              H. K92

                                              D. 95432

                                              C. J109

 South   West  North  East

1H        2S (1) 4H       All Pass

(1) Weak


Opening lead:  SA  (A from AK at trick one)      


You start a high-low with the nine and partner continues with the ace and jack of spades, dummy ruffing with the HJ. Plan your defense.


Partner cannot be expected to hold any more important honor cards. Count points. Dummy has 15, partner has shown up with 8 and you have 4 for a total of 27. South should have at least 12 leaving partner with zilch as you can see all four jacks. So where is the setting trick to come from?  Well, if partner has the H10 and you do not overtrump, your H9 will promote to the setting trick. It is far and away your best chance. If you overtrump, your 9 will not promote.

The West hand:  S. AKJ1043  H. 10  D. 1087  C. 875

The South hand: S. 862  H. 876543  D. AQ  C. AK


Be reluctant to overtrump an honor with an honor if your honor will always take a trick and you have a possibly promotable spot card as well.

#55    What a Dummy!

Dlr: South

Vul: None 


                    S. 109

                    H. 97

                    D. 76543

                    C. 6543

                                   East (you)

                                   S. A32

                                   H. QJ108

                                   D. A102

                                   C. J109

South    West    North     East

2C (1)    Pass    2D (2)    Pass

2S         Pass     3C (3)   Pass

3H (4)   Pass     3S  (5)   Pass

4H (6)   Pass     4S  (7)   All Pass

(1)  Strong and artificial

(2)  Waiting (Some respond an artificial 2H to deny an ace, a king or 4HCP.

(3)  Double Negative   Denies an ace, a king or 4 HCP

(4)  Natural and forcing (could be a four card suit)

(5)  Not forcing

(6)  Natural (5-5 in the majors) Responder might have two spades and three hearts

(7)  When will this torture end?


Opening lead:  DQ     Plan your defense


For openers , play the DA at trick one. Declarer has a major two-suiter and could well have a singleton king of diamonds. Whether or not the DK falls, your play is to switch to the ace and a spade to make sure you get two hearts tricks. Any other defense is off the wall.  Clubs tricks cannot get away and the only thing useful about this dummy is the possibility of heart ruffs. ,


The West hand:  S. 654    H. 32        D. QJ98  C. Q872

The South hand: S. KQJ87 H. AK654  D. K       C. AK


When partner leads a queen against a suit contract and third hand has the ace and there is any chance that declarer has a singleton king, third hand had better rise with the ace or he will never hear the end of it.

When dummy's only redeeming feature is side suit shortness (hearts), trump leads are usually the best defense, particularly if one of the defenders has strength in dummy's short suit.

#56   Socking it to Them

Dlr: South

Vul: Both


                S. K109

                H. J3

                D. AK865

                C. K32

                               East (you)

                               S. QJ75

                               H. 84

                               D. 7

                               C. QJ8764 

South   West   North   East

1S        2H       3D       Pass

3S        Pass    4S       All Pass

Opening lead:  HA  (A from AK)

You start a high-low echo with eight and partner continues with the king and queen of hearts, dummy ruffing with the S9. Plan your defense.


Discard, preferably a diamond, instead of ovetrumping. Your S7 is a very big card. If you overtrump, you will wind up with one trump trick as declarer can easily finesse you out of your queen after partner shows out under the SK. However, if you discard you can later cover the ten with the jack and your Q7 will be worth two tricks.

The West hand:  S. -             H. AKQ1065  D. 109432  C. 95

The South hand: S. A86432  H. 972           D. QJ          C. A10


Be leery of overruffing dummy if you can get an exta trump trick by not overtrumping.

#57   Card Reader


Dlr: West



                                    S. AKJ10

                                    H. AKQ9

                                    D. 73  

                                    C. 1098

            West (you)

            S. -

            H. 1032

            D. AK109864

            C. 732          



            West   North   East   South

            3D       Dbl.      Pass  5C

            All Pass

Opening lead:  DK  (At the five level or higher the king is led from the AK)

Partner plays the D2 and declaer the D5. What next?


What can partner have in diaonds?  He can't have J2, he would have played the J. He can't have QJ2, he would have played the queen. He either has Q2, or a singleton deuce. In either case it is safe to lead the D10 as a suit preference play. If partner ruffs he will return a spade and if partner wins the queen he will return a spade. Foolproof.

The East hand:  S. Q87543  H. 8765  D. Q2  C. 4

The South hand: S. 962  H. J4  D. J5  C. AKQJ65


Knowing partner cannot throw a queen under a king lead to show a doubleton, allowances have to be made for partner holding Qx.

The king is the normal lead from the ace-king at the five or six level. One often times wants to lead the ace without the king at this high a level. The king is also led from the ace-king in supported suits for the same reason. One may wish to lead an ace without the king in a supported suit. The lead of the ace in a supported suit denies the king.


#58   Three for You, One for Partner?

  Dlr: South

  Vul: None


                      S. QJ1054

                      H. KQ

                      D. 876

                      C. K87

West (you)

S. 8

H. J943


C. 9432  

South    West     North    East

1NT (1)  Pass     2H (2)   Pass

2S          Pass     3NT      Pass

4S          All Pass

(1)  15-17     (2)  Transfer

Opening lead:  DA

You cash the first three diamond tricks both partner and declarer following. You've done your part, but where is 4th trick coming from?


Assuming declarer has 15 HCP, partner has three. If partner's points are in clubs, it's not going to help as declarer can discard a club from dummy on the HA (if partner has something like QJx). If declarer has something like: AKxx Ax xxx A10xx, there is still no club trick coming because partner has the QJ doubleton and declarer has the 10. If the setting trick can't come from clubs or hearts (partner can't have the ace) it must come from spades.

If partner has Kxxx, there is no problem because he always has a spade trick, declarer having Axx. But if declarer has Axxx, partner with K9x can only garner a spade trick if you play a fourth diamond, your correct play. What  can declarer do?

If he doesn't ruff in dummy, partner ruffs with the nine driving out the ace, and dummy ruffs with an honor, partner discards and now the K9x is a natural trump trick.

The East hand:   S. K92     H. 8762  D. 432     C. 1065

The South hand:  S. A763  H. A105  D. 1095   C. AQJ


Adding declarer's points to dummy's points and then adding the total to your points tells you approximately how many points partner has. It is much easier to guage the defense with this information.

When it is clear that NO tricks are coming from the side suits, give the declarer a ruff and a sluff. Good things can happen.

When declarer has a notrump range of 15-17, assume 16. However, if dummy comes down rather "heavy", assume 15 because that gives partner an extra point and makes it easier to project a winning defensive scenario.

#59    Discardng is an Art Form

Dlr: West

Vul: None



                     S. AQJ10

                     H. QJ

                     D  AKQ2

                     C. 653  

                                   East (you)

                                   S. 764

                                   H. 4

                                   D. J9653

                                   C. 10987


West   North   East   South

1H       Dbl.      Pass  2S

3H       4S        All Pass

Opening lead:  HA  

Partner continues with the HK at trick two. What do you discard?

Solution:  I almost feel guilty about asking you what to discard, when the answer is that you should discard a trump! It is imporant for you to get the lead early to push a club through declarer before declarer pitches clubs on diamonds. What does it serve to discard anything on this hand? Use you trump as an entry, partner's trick notwithstanding. At least you aren't trumping partner's ace (as you would if partner leads king from ace-king), so it doesn't make for quite as good a story. As it happens, trumping partner's king at trick two and leading a club is the only defense that defeats the contract.

The West hand:  S. 2          H. AK10953  D. 1074  C. AQ2

The South hand: S. K9853  H. 8762         D. 8        C. KJ4


South jump response of 2S shows 9-11 reevalued points. An unbid five card major is worth 2 extra points and that's how South gets to 9 on this hand.

Trumping one of partner's tricks to lead another suit may be necessary if dummy has a threatening side suit, particularly if this is your last chance to lead this "other" suit.

#60  Murphy's Law

Dlr: South

Vul: None


                       S. Q93

                       H. 109

                       D. Q9753

                       C. KQ8

West (you)

S. 5

H. Q75432

D. AK6

C. A94

South   West   North   East

1S        2H       2S        Pass

4S        All Pass

Opening lead: DA  (A from AK(x) at trick one in unsupported suits

Partner plays the D10 at trick one and you continue with the DA, partner

following with the four. In the meantime, declarer has followed with the 

deuce and jack. What now?


Ever heard of Murhphy's Law?  Basically it's this:  If anything can go wrong, it will. On this hand you can give your partner a diamond ruff, but then you have to sweat out partner returning a club after you have bid hearts!  Why not cash the CA before giving partner the ruff?  So easy, but you have to think of it. If you fail to cash the CA and partner returns a heart, declarer can pitch his losing clubs on dummy's diamonds. How sad. 

The East hand:     S. 1072  H. J86  D. 104  C. 107532

The South hand:   S. AKJ865  H. AK  D. J82  C. J6


Anytime you can make life easier for partner, do it!  Look a trick or so ahead on defense. You know partner will ruff the third diamond so ask yourself what he is likely to lead next. Surely it will be heart, so why give partner a chance to err; cash the CA before giving partner the ruff.


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