A Defensive Hand from the Software DEFENSE



Dealer: W
Vul: Both
North
A K 7 2
K 7 6 2
7 2
7 6 2
 
 West
8 3
4
K Q 9 8 5 3
A Q 10 8
   
     

Lead: K
Bidding:

WEST NORTH EAST SOUTH
1 Pass 1 2
Pass 2 Pass 3
Pass Pass Pass  
       
       

By Mike Lawrence

Defense is usually the last thing that a defender learns to be efficient at. It is much tougher than playing a dummy for a variety of reasons.

When you are defending, there are many things you can do to help you find the best play. One of these things is to count.

What should you be counting?

Among other things, you should count declarer’s tricks, his shape, and his points. In the hand here and in the one for next month, counting will play a major role for the West defender.

West opened his nice shaped hand with one diamond. East bid one spade and when South bid two hearts, West was not able to describe the rest of his hand. North cue-bid two spades and when South signed off in three hearts, West was left on lead.

His choice was the king of diamonds, greeted warmly by East’s ten and South’s jack. West continued with the queen, but South ruffed this, which was very disappointing to West. It looks like four diamonds is cold for East-West and they are defending against three hearts. A poor result, no matter how many tricks South takes.

South now played three rounds of trumps, East showing up with three to the ten. Now came the ace and king of spades, East playing the queen and nine. Finally, declarer led a club to his nine and West’s jack. How should West continue the defense? Having lost a makeable partscore of four diamonds, is there a way to salvage a small plus score out of this?

Want to know which club East played? A fair question but I did not notice so can’t tell you. You will have to do the best you can without that information.

What do you think West should do here?

West must choose between clubs and diamonds. A diamond will give a sluff and a ruff and a diamond may or may not set up South’s king.

Neither play is very comfortable. Still, you must make a play. Which will it be?

Consider your play and continue when ready. I can offer you a major clue. The correct play is guaranteed to work, no matter what the arrangement of the remaining cards. Since the play and thinking here are instrumental to good defense, I offer that you really should do some thinking before continuing.



Dealer: W
Vul: Both
North
 A K 7 2
K 7 6 2
7 2
7 6 2
 
West
8 3
4
K Q 9 8 5 3
A Q 10 8
  East
Q J 10 9
♥  J 8 4
A 10 6 4
5 4
  South
6 5 4
A Q 10 9 5
J
K J 9 3
 

Lead: K
Bidding:

WEST NORTH EAST SOUTH
1 Pass 1 2
Pass 2 Pass 3
Pass Pass Pass  
       
       

West must give South a sluff and a ruff by leading another diamond. It does not matter where South takes the ruff. Most likely, he will ruff in dummy and discard his spade. No spade losers for South. Another club is taken by West who leads another diamond. South ruffs this one, but still has two club losers.

The key is this.

West counted South’s winners. West saw that South has two spade tricks, five hearts tricks, and a ruff in dummy. Leading diamonds ensures that South has only eight tricks.

Leading clubs can never win. Even if East has the king of clubs, it does not gain a net trick for the defense. By leading diamonds, West gets all the available tricks wherever the king of clubs is.

In this case, the key was for West to count South’s winners. He has just eight so West defended in a way that could not possibly give South a ninth.

Nice try by South. Against some defenders, this line would have worked.

Return to Articles