X-Def 11

This deal presented a very good exercise in defence, but the main lessons to be learnt, I suspect, would have escaped most of the players involved in this deal at the time.

Board 7 from Friday 28/04/23
Dealer South All Vul


The first thing we see is that, according to the ‘teaching manual’ East should open 1D and West should PASS! I don’t know anyone who would, with a singleton diamond and only ONE point less than what is considered required for a response. So it was that only one or two Easts played in 1D and most Wests responded with 1S, after which the end result was 3NT when East next made a game forcing jump shift to 3C and West had to bid again. Actually, West might well have gone against the rules once more and passed 3C for a good result, but then we wouldn’t get so many interesting things to learn from. So, let’s get to the logical conclusion of 3NT by East, bid as I have suggested.

The first problem: what should South lead? The book lead of ‘fourth highest of longest and strongest’ is certainly not right on the bidding, since declarer must have five diamonds. Dummy’s second suit is hearts but a heart lead, from that holding, is likely to help rather than hinder declarer. A top club should not be discounted as a potentially meaningful and safe lead, but a low spade is what I would recommend (not the ten which partner will read as a doubleton and could end up filling a gap in dummy). So, when South leads the spade five and declarer plays low from dummy, North, too, must play low, being confident that declarer has a singleton or (highly unlikely) void. Should declarer go up with the queen in dummy in the hope of enticing a cover from North? If the lead is the ten, yes, not a bad idea, but that will give away potential spade tricks if North is aware of what is going on and ducks.

That same possibility could occur later in the play if South has started the defence with a heart or club lead and has decided to switch to a spade after winning the heart king, so a low spade is better than the ten at any stage of the play. Often, good declarer play involves giving defenders the chance to go wrong. Many defenders did go wrong. It will be a good exercise for the reader to now take another look at the deal and think about the defence in more detail. We will discuss that in the next issue. It may help to have a look at what BSOL has to show us.