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February 19, 2000
4 Contract - Play or Defend?
Here is an interesting hand. You are sitting East.
* - This bid is pre-emptive by agreement between you and partner.
Partner leads the J.
Many times a bridge hand is a race to see which side can achieve the objective first.
This is such a hand. First, a bit of analysis. Partner cannot have much. In fact, you
probably have seen her only high card on the opening lead. Three tricks for your side
appear easy. What about a fourth? What does declarers hand look like? Perhaps an
easier way to think about the hand is to imagine how the play will proceed from
declarers point of view. To match the bidding, declarer must have all the missing
high card points and cannot have more than one or two clubs. What will happen if you win
the A and
Declarer will win, pull trump, and begin to work on the diamond suit. As long as partner does his job and sends a count signal in diamonds you can employ the holdup play and block declarer from the good diamonds in dummy. Will that be good enough?
Not really. Declarer can now just lead a heart and always get to the dummy to enjoy the diamond tricks. The KQ5 always represents an entry in hearts.
So back to the problem. What can you do about the situation?
What if you remove the heart entry from dummy before declarer needs to use it?
Win the A and lead the J!
Declarer gets one heart trick (he is entitled to one) but the entry to the established diamonds will be removed. Good work.
The complete hand:
You win the A and lead the J. Declarer wins the Q, pulls trump, and begins work on the diamond suit. Partner plays low-high in diamonds to indicate an odd number so you know declarer started with exactly two diamonds. You win the second diamond and continue clubs. This is the position with six tricks to go. You have two tricks (A and A). Declarer has five tricks so far (one heart, three spades, and one diamond). When you continue clubs, declarer wins but can only come to nine tricks (6 spades, 1 heart, 1 diamond, and 1 club).
With a feeling of satisfaction you commend yourself on a job well done.
Let me now ask the original question. Would you rather play or defend this hand in 4?
Defend you say?
Not me! I choose to play.
Try your defensive plan and see what happens:
You win the opening lead and lead the J which I win in dummy. I pull three rounds of trump and cash the K. Now I begin the diamond attack. You must duck the first round (hold up play). After winning the first diamond in dummy I trump a club and lead my last diamond. This is the situation:
Oops. What do you do now? You can win the A and will be forced to play a red suit and give
me my tenth trick!
Whenever possible remove the cards from defenders hand that allow them and easy exit. If possible, try to force the defenders into a position where they have no choice but to help you.