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Hand that illustrates how good defence requires clear head

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In last week’s column I spoke about the need for declarer to think and plan before playing a hand and, of course, the same applies in defence.

One of the keys to good defence is patience – too often players look frantically for a quick way to get tricks, and in doing so more often than not help declarer make their contract.

Good defence requires a clear head and the ability to use the information from the bidding to find the best way to beat the contract – today’s hand is the perfect illustration of how that leads to success.

You pick up this sorry collection S: 65, H: A10854, D: J87, C: J76 and hear RHO opponent open 1NT. See how the bidding proceeds in Figure 1.

Figure 1

You lead your fourth best heart and this dummy appears (see Figure 2).

Figure 2

To your delight, partner wins the King of hearts and returns the nine on which declarer plays the Jack. You are just about to win the Ace but you stop yourself and decide to think – good move!

You think back on the bidding and remember that declarer had bid two diamonds after his partner’s Stayman enquiry, which denied a four-card major – so it is clear that declarer started with QJx and partner with K9x. Given that you had no entry outside hearts you cleverly duck the Jack, throwing the ten to show real interest in the suit.

See the full hand in Figure 3.

Figure 3

Your play worked spectacularly!

Declarer had to take the spade finesse in order make nine tricks at which point partner won the King and returned a heart and you cash three more tricks to defeat the contract by one trick.

Notice that if you had won the Ace of hearts at trick two the defence is dead and declarer makes his contract.

Thought, planning, patience – a deadly combination!

• It is with great sadness that I report the passing on Thursday of Pauline Dunnill, who will be known to all who played at the club in the 80s and 90s.

Pauline was a regular, and she was ray of light at the club with a wicked sense of humour, and if there was a leader board for members who made you smile she would be up top.

Our thoughts are with her family and close friends.

David Ezekiel can be reached on davidezekiel999@gmail.com


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Published August 12, 2023 at 7:55 am (Updated August 12, 2023 at 7:25 am)

Hand that illustrates how good defence requires clear head

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