Eddie Kantar

Test Your Defense

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New hands added 6-13-11

#71  Alarm Clock Fashion

Dlr: East
Vul: East-West

                                               North (dummy)
                                               S. AQ97
                                               H. KJ1076
                                               D. Q5
                                               C. 63

                                                                 East (you)
                                                                  S. 10
                                                                  H. A4
                                                                  D. AKJ96
                                                                  C. K9875

East   South   West  North
1D      Pass     2C      Dbl.
3S*    Dbl.       5C     Pass
6C      6H        Dbl.   (All Pass)
* Splinter

Opening lead:  D7      Dummy plays low.  Plan your defense.


The idea is to get a spade ruff and there are two possible ways of getting partner in after you win the HA.  (1) with a club; (2) with a diamond ruff if partner has led a singleton.  In order to give yourself two chances, win the diamond ACE and shift to the S10 at trick BEFORE cashing a second diamond. Assume South wins and leads a heart to the ten and ace.  Now play the DK.  If partner follows, lead a club. If partner has led a singleton diamond and notices the way you are playing your diamonds in an alarm clock fashion. partner will trump the DK and lead a spade. Down 3. 

The West hand:  S. J432   H. Q5  D. 7  C. AQJ1042
The South hand: S. K865  H. 9832  D. 108432

 #72 Two Questions  

Dlr: South
Vul: Both

                         North  (dummy)
                         S. 9876
                         H. Q6
                         D. AKJ10
                         C. A65 

                                           East (you) 
                                           S. KQJ3
                                           H. A109832
                                           D. 84
                                           C. 3

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

Opening lead H4. You win the HA, declarer drops the king and return the H10 to the 7, jack and queen.  Dummy leads the S9.

1.  Which spade do you play if playing against a weak declarer?

2.  Which spade do you play if playing against a strong declarer? 


You've got to learn to ignore my silly trick questions!  It doesn't matter how good or how bad the declarer is, you have the hand beaten if you split your spades honors no matter even if declarer is solid in both minor suits.

If declarer wins, partner following low, and plays a another spade, you win and play a heart forcing one hand or the other to trump. Declarer dare not play another spade with two spades in one hand and one in the other while you have K3 left. You will win and play another heart forcing declarer to use his last trump.  Now you can trump the second club, and your two remaining hearts are high. If declarer stops drawing trump, you can trump the second club and defeat the contract. 

If declarer ducks your spade honor play at trick two, play a heart. Say declarer ruffs in dummy and discards a club. When a second spade is led from dummy, split your honors again. If declarer ducks, play another heart establishing an extra spade trick for yourself no matter where declarer trumps.

The bottom line is that there is no way declarer can make this hand if you split your spade honors each time the suit is led and play a heart each time you have the lead. 

The West hand:  S. 4          H. J54   D. 97532  C. 10872
The East hand:   S. A1065  H. K7     D. Q6       C. KQJ94

#73  Your Best Shot?

Dlr: East
Vul: N-S

                             North (dummy)
                             S. QJ
                             H. QJ93
                             D. AJ97
                             C. A94

West (you)
S. K9863
H. A102
D. KQ4
C. 83

East   South   West   North
Pass  Pass     1S       Dbl.
2S     3C         All Pass

Opening lead:  S6

Partner wins the SA and returns the S2 to your king. Now what?


This one isn't 100% clear.  (What is?)  For example if partner has either missing king, you have the hand defeated off the top if you establish one diamond trick for yourself by leading the king. However, if partner does have a king, South doesn't have very much for his vulnerable 3C bid and partner, with four spades and a side suit king, 'might' have competed to 3S.

However, if declarer has the likely missing kings, best defense is to lead a LOW diamond and hope declarer has xxx and inserts the 9. Partner wins the 10 and returns a diamond building up a second diamond winner before the HA can be driven out.

The East hand:      S. A1052  H. 764  D. 1083  C. J72
The South hand:    S. 74        H. K85  D. 652    C. KQ1065

 #74  Seen this one before?

Dlr: North
Vul: Neither
IMP scoring

                        North (dummy)
                        S. Q
                        H. 1043
                        D. 93
                        C. KQJ10654
                                              East (you)
                                              S. K543
                                              H. 97652
                                              D. K102
                                              C. A

North    East    South    West
3C        Pass    3NT       All Pass

Opening lead: S10. You cover dummy's queen with the king and South wins the ace and  leads the C7, partner plays the deuce, standard count. and because the fates have dealt you a singleton ace you can't hold up even though you know declarer has a doubleton. Can you overcome this cruel bit of bad luck? 

Solution: You can overcome! You can count declarer for six club tricks and know partner has the SJ for two spades and eight in all. No matter how strong partner's hearts are, give declarer has at least two hearts, you cannot take more than three heart tricks. The bottom line is that partner must have the DA to have any chance of defeat this contract. In fact, he must have the AJ of diamonds. In fact, he must have either the AJ8x or AJ7x to defeat the contact and only then if you switch to the D10 to unblock the suit.  Play it out and you will see why the 10 is the only diamond you can lead to get four tricks if declarer plays properly. For example, if you lead the king and then the 10, declarer covers and there goes your four diamond tricks. 

These defensive plays that feature leading a middle honor from three come up most frequently when dummy to the right has a small singleton or doubleton and you need beaucoup tricks in the suit and you are looking at: AJx, A10x, KJx, K10x, A9x, K9x and even Q9x.  Of course partner must be aware of what you might be doing! 

The West hand:  S. 10987  H. J8     D. AJ74   C. 982
The East hand:   S. AJ62     H. AKQ  D. Q865  C. 73

#75  My bad

Here is a defensive problem for you. If it will make you feel any better, I botched it in actual play.

Dlr: South
Vul: Both
IMP scoring
                         North (dummy)                      
                         S. 102
                         H. 73
                         D. 62
                         C. AKQJ987
West (you-me)
S. A83
H. A65
D. KJ1097
C. 65  

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

Opening lead: DJ 

I led the DJ, partner overtook with the queen, and declarer played the 3. At trick two partner shifted to the H2 and declarer  played the king. What would you have done in my place. Also, if you decide to take the trick, what will you play next?

I ducked the heart. Not good. Declarer then cashed the DA, ruffed a diamond, and was able to discard two spades on top clubs. I ruffed the third club so we did beat the hand one trick. However, if I trust my partner (he would not lead a heart if he thoughg declarer could use the clubs) I would have won the HA and continued the suit. Now declarer cannot use any of his clubs, nor can he trump a diamond. We wind up defeating the contract three tricks.

The East hand:   S. K975  H. 82                 D. Q85  C. 10432
The South hand: S. QJ64  H. KQJ1094        D. A43  C. -

#76.  You Be the Judge

This time you get to see all four hands and see how two experts did not find the winning defense. Decide who is to blame, if anyone.

Dlr:  South
Vul:  None

                                             S. 543
                                             H. KQ76
                                             D. 84
                                             C. A987

                      West                                 East
                      S. KJ6                                S. A972
                      H. J84                                H.1093
                      D. 10762                           D. J53
                      C. J42                                C. K103
                                             S. Q108
                                             H. A82
                                             D. AKQ9
                                             C. Q65 
South  West   North  East
1NT     Pass    2C      Pass
2D       Pass    3NT    All Pass

Opening lead: D2

East's jack lost to the king and now declarer entered dummy with a heart and led a low club to the queen which held. Next came a club to the 9 and king and back came a diamond from East. Declarer now had 10 tricks: four hearts, three diamonds and three clubs. Had East shifted to a spade instead of a diamond, the defense would have taken four spades and a club.

What's your verdict?

Although it is true that a spade shift could have given declarer his ninth trick if declarer had something like:
KQJ Axx K10xx Qxx
and a diamond shift would have defeated the contract, the verdict was that West was the guilty party. 

The lead of a low card vs notrump should indicate strength not only count. If the suit is headed by a 10 or a lower card, particularly when you want partner to return another suit, it is better to lead your second highest card when the suit is headed by the 10 or 9 (from 98xx lead the nine) and a top card when it is headed by any other spot card. Partner has a better chance of finding the right defense if he doesn't have to worry about the lead of a low card being from four bad. 

Even so, this is not a panacea. Partner might still think a 7 is from something like 97xx when in fact the opening leader has AQ97(x), KJ97x or AJ97x.  Of course if partner has bid the suit, you don't have to worry about four small. There is also the rule of 11 which usually tells you whether or not a lead can even be fourth best. Finally, if you fear there may be confusion you can lead low from your strong five card when your 4th highest card is a seven or an eight. Bridge is a tough game, isn't it?

#77   You Are Going to Love This One

Dlr: South
Vul: East-West
                                North (dummy)
                                S. QJ106
                                H. KQ109
                                D. QJ
                                C. 1076            East (you)
                                                        S. K98
                                                        H. 432
                                                        D. 75
                                                        C. AKJ92
South   West   North   East 
1NT      Pass    2C       Dbl.
2S        Pass    4S       All Pass

Opening lead: CQ 

Say you correctly overtake and cash two more clubs, partner discarding the D2 on the third club. It's still your play!


You have 11 HCP and so does dummy for a grand total of 22. Declarer has at least 15 so partner can have no more than 3HCP, if that, and has already shown up with the CQ. In other words, the most partner can have is a worthless HJ.

Once you realize that there are no tricks coming from the side suits, look to the trump suit. Doesn't look too promising does it with the SK finesseable. However looks can be deceiving. Never overlook the power of a ruff and sluff. If you play a fourth club and partner has the S7 and uses it to uppcut an honor from dummy, you S9 will promote to a winning trick after you cover one of dummy's spade honors. It's your only chance and you should go for it!

The West hand: S. 72  H. 765  D. 986432  C. Q8
The South hand: S. A543  H. AJ8  D. AK7  C. 543

#78  Eagle Eye

Dlr: South
Vul: Both

                          North (dummy)
                          S. 82
                          H. K62
                          D. A73
                          C. AQJ104
West (you)
H. 93
D. 952
C. 753

South   West   North   East
1NT*    Pass    3NT     All Pass   *12-14

Opening lead: S5

East wins the SK at trick one, South playing the jack. At trick two East returns the S6, South playing the queen. Plan your defense.


If you are watching the spot cards closely, you should realize that partner has the K64 and declarer the QJ10. If declarer is telling the truth with the QJ doubleton, partner has the K1064 and would have returned the 4. Declarer is not telling the truth, partner has the K64 and declarer the QJ10.

You must save that remaining spade in partner's hand in case he gets in early (probably with the CK)  in which case you can take four spades plus partner's winner. 

 The East hand:   S. K64    H. 108754  D. QJ10   C. K4
 The South hand: S. QJ10  H. AQJ        D. K864   C. 982 

This hand illustrates whey it is so important to watch partner's play to the first two tricks. The first card tells you about the honor card layout, the second is a count card. With two cards remaining, the higher card is returned, with three cards remaining, the lowest.

#79  Nice Suit

Dlr: West
Vul: Both
                                     North (you)
                                     S. 743
                                     H. 109
                                     D. AKJ1054
                                     C. 8 
West (dummy)
S. KQ2
H. A85
D. 76
C. QJ1094

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

Opening lead: D3    Plan your defense.


Far and away the best chance to defeat this contract is to play partner for a doublton diamond and a club honor. If partner comes through for you, you must play the D10 at trick one to force out the queen and keep a diamond in partner's hand to return when he gets  in with his projected club honor.  Success! These are the missing hands:

The South hand: S. 9865  H. Q9432  D. 32     C. K5
The East hand:   S. AJ10   H. KJ10      D. Q98  C. A762 

Think positively on defense and play your partner for some minimum holding (two diamonds and a club honor) that will allow you to defeat the contract.

#80  Make Them Pay!

Dlr: East 
Vul: North-South
$$$$ Bridge

                                   North (dummy)
                                   S. Q
                                   H. K73
                                   D. AJ10985
                                   C. 843
West (you)
S. J
H. 10854
D. K2
C. 1097652

East   South   West    North

3S      3NT      All Pass

You dutifully lead the SJ to the queen, king and four. Partner returns S10, declarer win the ace and it is your turn. What do you discard?


If declarer has the DQ, you are not going to  defeat this contract  so play partner for that card and discard the DK making the local newpaper column when partner turns up with the Qx of diamonds. Now twist and turn as he might declarer cannot make this hand.

Had you kept the DK, declarer can play ace and a diamond  setting up the suit without letting partner in. Declarer erred when he duck the first spade giving you a chance to make a newspaper column discard. Did you?

The East hand:   S. K1098732 H. QJ2  D. Q6   C. J
The South hand: S. A654         H. A64  D. 742  C. AKQ

This hand illustrates the danger of holding up when it is pretty clear that a singleton has been led leaving yourself vulnerable to a potentially killing discard.  Of course, not everyone is going to find that discard, but it is clearly the right discard.


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