X-Def 12

Defence is more than just about the opening lead. Signalling on the opening lead makes the continuation of the defence much easier.

Board 9 from Wednesday 3/05/2023
Dealer North EW Vul


Many Easts played in 1H! There are a number of reasons why that should not happen.

South does not have the ‘classical’ double but does have four spades and should want to compete, so should DOUBLE. West should bid 2H. Yes, West has what is, according to basic learner rules, not enough HCP to raise hearts, but... a four count and four card trump support should be enough to raise to the two level, especially when the right hand opponent doubles the opening bid. Some of the advanced players play the “Truscott” convention, where after such a takeout double, you raise the opened suit by one level more than had there been no double. By the same token, North can happily compete to 2S if partner has doubled 1H. But that aside, whether East ends up in 1H, 2H, 3H or even 4H, the defence should follow the same lines, which is unusual because opening leads and subsequent defence will often depend on the level of the contract and what has been learnt from the bidding. If South has doubled 1H and North bid 2S and East has ended up in say 3H, the opening lead should be the ace of clubs. Now, signalling is important. North follows with the two and this is discouraging and hence tells South that North has THREE clubs (or a highly unlikely singleton) and does not want South to continue. South should switch rather than continue with the ace, which will be ruffed while at the same time setting up the queen in dummy. A spade switch should be the sensible option, and of course the obvious option if North has bid spades. But in any case, grabbing the ace of diamonds and hoping partner has the king is not a rewarding play. Note what happens. Declarer will make dummy’s jack and then the king and queen in hand will provide two spade discards in dummy: no spade losers! A spade switch ensures a spade trick before it can run away on declarer’s diamonds.

As a rule, sitting back and letting declarer do the hard work is better than grabbing tricks, and that is certainly the case here. Should declarer lead a diamond towards dummy’s jack, there is no need to win the ace: let it win and use the ace to beat declarer’s queen or king later.