Eddie Kantar

Test Your Defense

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Some difficult problems coming up here.

#81   Who's in charge here?

 Dlr: West
Vul: Neither

                              North (dummy)
                              S. KJ62
                              H. 86
                              D. AK
                              C. A10763
West (you)
S. A53
H. AQ9732
D. 4
C. KQ8

West     North    East     South
1H         Dbl.      2H        3D
4H         Dbl.      Pass     5D
Dbl.       All Pass

Opening lead:  HA  

Partner plays the ten and declarer the jack. What now?


Switch to the CK to try to set up a club trick before declarer can set up the spades for a club discard. Declarer may have the SQ

It is true that if declarer has the SQ and a hand such as: S. Q10x Jx  QJ10xxxx J and you switch to a club you will lose your heart trick as declarer can set up the C10 for a heart discard. However, if declarer has that hand (and it must be a blank CJ), then your partner has raised you to 2H with K10x of hearts and out, vulnerable. Go with the odds and shift to a high club.

The East hand:  S. 874  H. K1054  D. 765  C. J42  (Even with four hearts, partner had nothing to write home about)
The South hand: S. Q109  H. J   D. QJ109852  C. 95 

Even though partner played the H10 at trick one, that simply meant from his point of view a heart continuation looked best. However, you are the one with all the honor cards and you know you are defending against a mile long diamond suit and a likely singleton heart given that South pulled partner's double of 4H. There are times when it is right to overrule partner, particularly when you have the much stronger hand.

#82 You've seen this before

Dlr: South

Vul: East-West

                                North (dummy)
                                 S. AJ8
                                 H. A1042
                                 D. A1054
                                 C. 76            East (you)
                                                     S. Q7643
                                                     H. K86
                                                     D. 93
                                                     C. KJ4 

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

Opening lead: S10   

Dummy covers with the jack, you play the queen and declarer wins the king and runs the HJ to your king, partner playing playing the 3, standard count. What now?


Declarer seems poised to run off a bundle of tricks in the red suits not to mention the three spades tricks he has available if he leads low to the 8. Clearly you must shift to clubs and you are looking for four tricks in the suit so you must project some club holding where that is possible. It is barely possible that partner has AQxx in which case you can start with either the king or jack and then play the other honor to unblock the suit and then a little one to partner's AQ.

Of course things are not always quite that easy. Partner may also have A108x in which case you must start with the jack as declarer has Q9xx. If you start with the king and then the jack, declarer covers with the queen and the 9 morphs into a fourth round stopper. This is a good card combination to remember and we have seen an offshoot in earlier problems. 

The West hand:  S. 1092  H. 953   D. J86     C. A1082
The South hand: S. K5       H. QJ2   D. KQ72  C. Q953

Leading the second highest card from holdsing such AJx, A10x, KJx, K10x, A9x, K9x, Q10x and Q9x when trying for four tricks  is almost always the right play when the dummy to your right has a small singleton or doubleton. Of course, partner has to realize that you are up to such plays! 

#83   Being a Kind Partner

Dlr: East
Vul: Both

                           North (dummy)
                           S. AQJ108
                           H. 75
                           D. QJ1076
                           C. Q  

West (you)
S. 9
H. K98
D. 2
C. AK1098765  

East   South   West    North 
Pass  1D        4C        4S
5C     Pass     Pass     5D
All Pass  

Opening lead: CK    

Partner plays the 2 and declarer the jack. What now?


You should shift to a heart for two reasons: (1) Partner may have the HA and declarer the SK and take five spades and six diamonds if you lead a spade; partner may have the HQ and declarer may have two spades and will be able to develop the spades for heart pitches if you don't shift to a heart.

In fact, why not be a considerate partner and shift to the HK?  If you shift to the H8, partner, holding the ace,  might think you are trying to get him in for a spade ruff!  Remember, you have to put yourself in partner's place so anything you can do to help partner avoid a blunder will be appreciated.... in spades! 

The East hand:    S. 65432  H. A1064  D. 3           C. 432
The South hand:  S. K7        H. QJ32    D. AK9854  C. J  

#84   What's Going On Here?

Rubber bridge
Dlr: South
Vul: North-South

                                 North (dummy)
                                 S. 3
                                 H. J953
                                 D. KQ4
                                 C. QJ062 
West (you)
S. J109842
H. K104
D. 52
C. A7  

South   West   North   East
1D        1S        Dbl.*   2S 
3NT       All Pass

Opening lead: SJ        

Partner plays the five and declarer wins the king. At trick two declarer leads a low club. Plan your defense.


Partner's play of her lowest spade in theory denies a spade honor, therefore play declarer for the AKQ. If declaer has five diamonds headed by the ace and a likely CK, he is going after his 9th trick right in front of your very nose. Don't let him, rise with the CA! 

If this hand is to be defeated it has to be in hearts. Not only that but you need four heart tricks so partner needs the AQ. Even that is not enough unless you lead the proper heart!  If you start with the king and then the 10, declarer covers and the 9 prevent partner from taking more than one heart trick. If you start with a low heart, partner wins the ace, leads a low heart to your king, but now when you return the H10 dummy has the J9 a fourth round stopper. 

What you have to do is shift to the H10 playing partner for a small singleton or doubleton. If declarer plays low, your 10 wins and now you can play king and another. If dummy covers with the jack, partner wins the ace, returns a low heart to your king, and now when you return the H4, partner will be hovering over dummy's 95 with the Q6. (This assume that declarer started with the 87 doubleton, the strongest two card holding he can have lacking an honor.)

The East hand:  S. 765   H. AQ762  D. 1093   C. 93
The South hand: S. AKQ H. 8           D. AJ876  C. K854 

Notice that given this layout of the heart suit, you not only collect four heart tricks by leading the compulsory ten, but rather five to defeat the contract, two tricks. Who do they think they are playing against here, children? 

#85   Trust

Match point duplicate
Dlr: East
Vul: Neither

                            North (dummy)
                            S. J
                            H. K102
                            D. J106
                            C. KQJ987

West (you)
S. K10765
H. A43
D. 32
C. 1065 

East   South  West  North
1S      3D*     3S     5D
Dbl.    All Pass   *Weak 

Opening lead: SK! 

You decide to lead the SK to both look over the dummy and perhaps see your name written up somehwere if it works out. Partner plays the SQ and declarer the deuce. Now what?


It's not for you to reason why, it's for you to do or die. Partner is asking for a heart lead with that blatant suit preference play, so give it to him and lead a low heart.

The East hand: S. AQ9843  H. Q865  D. K4  C. A
The South hand: S. 2  H. J97  D. AQ10987  C. 432  

If declarer misguesses and plays low (and he probably will), partner wins the queen, cashes the club ace, leads a heart back to your ace and ruffs the club return for down 3 and 500 points. If you don't engineer the club ruff, you will defeat the contract 2 tricks for plus 300, not enough to make up for the +420 you have coming in a contract of 4S.

#86   Temptation

 Dlr: East 
 Vul: N-S

                                     North (dummy)
                                     S. KJ9876
                                     H. Q98
                                     D. A
                                     C. J74 

West (you)
S. AQ3
H. 543
D. Q1072
C. Q53 

East    South   West  North
Pass    1H       Pass   1S
Pass    2C       Pass   3H
Pass    4C       Pass   4D 
Dbl.     Pass    Pass   Rdbl.* 
Pass    4NT     Pass   5C **
Pass    5D*** Pass   5S****
Pass     6H      All Pass

Phew! Perhaps a 'little' explanation is necessary. North's double was lead directing and South's redouble confirmed the ace as it might have been bid with a singleton. Singletons can be cuebid beneath 4NT. 4NT was Keycard Blackwood with 1430 responses. 5C showed '1' and 5D was the queen-ask. 5S showed the HQ plus the SK. South, knowing the hand is missing an ace signs off in 6H.

You lead the D2, partner plays the D9 and declarer the 3. Decarer crosses to the HA and leads the S2. You go up with the ace and partner plays the S2, standard count.  Now what? 


It is tempting to exit with trump and wait for a club trick. Ha, ha. The trouble with that reasonable defensive thought is that if declarer has AKJxx of hearts, he can play the nine, win partner's 10 and now how two heart entries to dummy to set up the spades. Declarer winds up with five hearts, four spades, two clubs and a diamond. 

A better idea is to lead a second diamond forcing dummy to ruff in effect killing a dummy entry prematurely  preventing declarer from setting up spades as he cannot wind up in dummy to use the spades once dummy has only two hearts. By being patient you will get your club trick. East

East  hand:         S. 1052  H. 62         D. KJ9854 C. 42
The South hand: S. 4        H. AKJ107  D. 63        C. AK1098

#87    Three Aces Only Take Three Tricks 

Dlr: North
Vul: East-West

                             North (dummy)
                             S. J82
                             H. K
                             D. AKQ106
                             C. 7654             East (you)
                                                      S. A43
                                                      H. A98754
                                                      D. 75
                                                      C. AJ 

North    East    South    West
1D        1H       1S*        3H**
3S        4H       4S         Pass
Pass     Pass   

* At least five   ** Preemptive

Opening lead: H2    

You win and exit with the AJ of clubs. Declarer wins the second club as partner encourages. Declarer ruffs the HJ in dummy, partner covering, and runs the SJ to partner's queen. Partner cashes the CQ, declarer following, and continues with the C10. What two discards do you make? 


The West hand: S. Q   H. Q1032  D. J984  C. Q1032 
The South hand: S. K109765  H. J6  D. 32  C. K98   

It maybe tempting to discard both diamonds, but it is not best. Best is to discard one diamond and one heart. If declarer ruffs the club and leads a spade to drive out your ace, you can win and stuff declarer back in dummy with a diamond. Now with only diamonds in dummy, you ruff the forced diamond exit and defeat this contract four tricks for +800. If you get careless and discard both diamonds, declarer will avoid the diamond ruff as you can't exit a diamond when in with the SA and get out for down three -500.  Fortunately the defense against four hearts can start with three rounds of diamonds and defeat the contract one trick with two diamonds a heart and a club so you wind up with a great score anyway.  Declarer, on the other hand, could have cashed one diamond before driving out the SA and avoided the diamond ruff.  Bridge is a game of mistakes and everyone makes them, some more than others. That's the difference.   

#88    It's On Your Head, Baby   

Dlr: South
Vul: East-West
IMP scoring
                         North (dummy)
                         S. A98 
                         H. KJ4
                         D. QJ73
                         C. 982
West (you)
S. K1076
H. 2
D. A10984
C. AKQ  

South   West   North   East
1H        Dbl.    Rdbl.    Pass
2H        Dbl.    3H       Pass
4H        All Pass

Opening lead: CQ    

You lead the queen from the AKQ. If partner reads the lead, his first card is count and the second is suit preference.  In any case you take the first three club tricks, partner playing the 4,5,7 and declarer the the 3,6,J. Now what?


Lead a heart. Partner has shown three clubs and may have a preference for diamonds. However, he may not have anything in either diamonds or spades though South's 2H rebid in front of the redoubler shows a minimum opening bid. 

In any case, if partner has the DK, declarer's diamond losers aren't going anywhere and there is a danger of playing the DA in case declarer is void. He can now use dummy's diamonds for a ruffing finesse to get rid of a spade and if he started with the QJx of spades, you have allowed an unmakable contract to make!

Leading a spade is also dangerous. If declarer has the QJx with a diamond void you have given up your natural spade trick no matter which spade you lead. The passive exit of a heart is the winning exit.

The East hand:   S. 432  H. 765          D. K852   C. 754
The South hand: S. QJ5  H. AQ10983  D. -         C.  J1063 

#89    Trick One Dilemma

Dlr: South
Vul: North-South

                                 North (dummy)
                                 S. Q873
                                 H. 9 
                                 D. Q4
                                 C. AK10942
                                                           East (you)
                                                           S. J1092
                                                           H. 106 
                                                           D. A107
                                                           C. 8653     

South     West    North    East
2C*        Pass     3C        Pass
3H          Pass     4C        Pass
4H          Pass     5H        Pass
6H          All Pass

* Strong and artificial

Opening lead: D2 (4th best) 

Dummy plays low, and you?


Careful! Don't play your ace, play your ten! How should you know to play the D10 when partner may have the king? The answer lies in the bidding. North's bidding has indicated good clubs with no outside controls. Therefore, South would not bid 6H with two quick losers in either spades or diamonds. If you play the ace and declarer has the king with a club void, you have given declarer that vital dummy entry needed to discard two losers on the AK of clubs. 

The West hand: S. K654  H. 84  D. J932  C. QJ7
The South hand: S. A  H. AKQJ7532  D. K865  C. -

As it happens, if you play the D10 at trick one, declarer can do do no better than win the jack and play a diamond to the queen and your ace. Now a trump return by you and it had better be the 10, lest declarer rides it to dummy's nine in desperation, gives you a total of three diamond tricks.  Exchange the nine and ten of hearts and declarer can make the contract no matter what you do. Those red tens are your salvation.

#90  Really?

Dlr: North
Vul: E-W

                           North (dummy)
                          S. AJ7
                          H. AQ
                          D. KQ7643
                          C. 84   

West (you)
S. 108543
H. 76
D. AJ108
C. Q5   

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

Opening lead: S4

Dummy plays the SA, partner the six, and declarer the deuce. At trick two the DK is led from dummy. Partner plays the 9 and declarer the deuce. It's your turn. Plan your defense.


The play is going suspiciously. Why didn't declarer win the spade lead in his hand (partner has discouraged in spades, and lead a diamond up to the KQ like most would? The answer is that declarer wanted to conceal his spade strength and try to snatch his ninth trick in diamonds. If that is true partner must have five heart tricks and three spade tricks or four heart  tricks and four spade tricks rarin' to go and the DQ is number nine. This is your cue to win the DA and smartly put the CQ on the table. Down 2! 

The East hand: S. 96  H. 10952  D. 95  C. AKJ32
The South hand: S. KQ2 H. KJ943  D. 2  C. 10976

Personally, I would have won the SK and led a diamond from my hand as if I was trying to set up the suit.


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