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Satisfaction of successful defending

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Figure 1
Figure 2

A few weeks ago I asked players to e-mail me at if they achieved a top-five result in any non-Bridge Club online game with more than 100 pairs.

Well, the first one I received was last night from my online partner and Bridge Club member Jean Johnson, reporting a second-place finish in the Wednesday 3.10pm Pairs Game which had an entry of 484 pairs – I did, in fact, know about this as I was her partner!

It was a good solid game and our 71 per cent game just 1 per cent behind the winners – no huge gifts from the opponents but we bid our games, stayed out of the bad ones and didn’t give them a lot when we were defending.

Defence played a large part in results – I love defending at bridge, and enjoy the challenge of constructing declarer and partner’s hand from the bidding in order to defend properly. When defending I try and avoid helping declarer in any way, and always try and get them to make the hand instead of being given it.

This usually means not switching from one suit to another in search of quick tricks and having the mindset that you cannot take away from declarer what is theirs, so quite often the best defence is to give them what they already have and let them sort out the rest.

There were a lot of game hands but the defence on this little part score hand gave us 87.1 per cent mainly because we let declarer sort out her own tricks with zero help from us, and she found that tough (see Figure 1).

East opened 1NT, I passed as South and West made a conservative, but reasonable, pass with the West hand and 1NT became the final contract.

I had a standout lead of the King of spades and having the AJ behind me when dummy came down was a disappointment, but every defender would face that. Declarer ducked, and Jean played the 2 showing three cards in the suit which meant declarer started with 2 spades. This meant declarer could now finesse my spade at any time, and since I was keen to cut declarer off from the club suit in dummy I continued with a spade to force her to take the finesse now, and not have a later entry to dummy.

My 10 of spades was won by the Jack and declarer now took the diamond finesse to my queen. Following my approach of giving declarer what belonged to her I returned a diamond, won by declarer. Now declarer ran the club Jack to the Queen and Jean continued the passive defence by leading a third diamond. Declarer won this and played the club 10 which was allowed to hold. This was now the position (see Figure 2):

The defence had now taken just three tricks, a spade a diamond and a club, and declarer had taken four, a spade and three diamonds. Declarer could now salvage eight tricks by playing the queen of hearts, but made the mistake of cashing the diamond and then playing AQ of hearts. Now a spade return set up another two tricks for the defence, holding declarer to 1NT.

The scoring on the board was fascinating – four pairs made 11 tricks in NT, about 30 pairs made ten tricks and nearly all the others made 9 tricks – even holding it to 2NT would have scored 81 per cent. The key to the hand was killing the club suit by removing dummy’s entry, and then not opening up the heart suit for declarer, basically leaving her to her own devices.

Also note how important it is for the defenders to communicate with each other by giving count and suit preference whenever possible. You are not allowed to speak at the table, but good defence essentially becomes a ‘conversation’ with partner in order to solve what is often an intricate puzzle, and a successful defence can often be the highlight of a session.


Monday, March 29

1 Gertie Barker - Jane Smith

2 Molly Roraback - Charles Roraback

3 Martha Ferguson - Judy King

Tuesday, March 30

1 Malcolm Moseley - Mark Stevens

2 Jean Schilling - Tim Mardon

3 Keri McKittrick - Tim McKittrick

Wednesday, March 31

1 Wendy Gray - Richard Gray

2 Marge Way - Rachael Gosling

3 Ed Betteto - Peter Donnellan

Thursday, April 1

1 Stephanie Kyme - Charles Hall

2 Sharon Shanahan - Claude Guay

3 Molly Roraback - Charles Roraback

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Published April 03, 2021 at 8:00 am (Updated April 02, 2021 at 7:29 pm)

Satisfaction of successful defending

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