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

KQ97
T
T9653
T52
85
J653
J2
Q8763
AJ6
AK874
KQ84
4
T432
Q92
A7
AKJ9

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

X-Clubs 60

Now for our statistical analysis of the specific situation we encountered, with the eight card heart suit missing the ace. This is not all that uncommon and can happen with any suit, and you have to guess whether to bid 3NT or game in the suit. If opener does not turn up with the ace, you can almost certainly give up on No Trumps, but in real life you have no way of knowing that partner does have that crucial card. The same can apply to a suit like AQJ10xxx where the crucial card is the king. But why guess when you have the Evil 2NT at your disposal? Responder calling 2NT will allow you to find out whether opener has that missing card in your suit, and you can then make your decision based on it.

I asked Mike to give me a random deal of 20 hands where opener has a balanced hand and cover (minimum Qxx) in every suit, which means that opener has the ace of hearts. Then counted the number of times either 3NT or 4H could be made ‘double dummy’ according to Deep Finesse (DF). In practice of course things are a bit different at the table and defenders can often be depended on to defend badly, especially when declarer’s hand is hidden. I have found that in such cases, 3NT is harder to defend against than game in a suit. But let’s look at the cold hard ‘facts’ that DF presents us with on the small sample of 20 deals:

Just as a reminder, let me repeat the East-West hands as they were when the deal was played.
Board 18 Dealer East NS Vul

4
KQJ96432
J6
T6
QJ8
A8
K94
A8743

X-Clubs 59

Isn’t it wonderful how even learners can sometimes get a great result despite doing everything wrong. Why I am writing this deal up? Because it actually led to a very interesting, sometimes even heated, argument with one of my favourite partners, with whom I play our version of “Evil Acol” which includes the “Evil 2NT” response to a 1NT opening bid. I will continue that discussion in future issues, but for now let me relate the story of our beginners who brilliantly ended up in the same ‘ridiculous’ contract that we would have with our “Evil” system. This deal comes from last Wednesday's X-Clubs

Board 18 from 26/05/2023
Dealer East NS Vul

K7653
75
T875
J2
4
KQJ96432
J6
T6
QJ8
A8
K94
A8743
AT92
T
AQ32
KQ95

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

K982
985
AK6
T75
QJ743
J632
8
J63
A
AQ4
T9543
AKQ2
T65
KT7
QJ72
984

X-Def 10

Now we have the second deal from Friday’s play, a mundane 2S contract to defend, but not every pair managed to get it right. With a basic opening lead structure and signals, there can be no excuse for not getting the maximum out of the defence, no matter what declarer does.

Board 26 from Friday 21-Mar 2023
Dealer East All Vul

32
AKT3
Q9742
85
86
Q872
KJT
J432
AQJT74
J65
6
KQ6
K95
94
A853
AT97

X-Def 09

Here is a deal from a recent match point session at X-Clubs which will serve to illustrate why it is so important to have a set method of opening leads and signals.

Board 10 from Friday 21/04/23)
Dealer East All Vul

KJ6
J65
A987
K94
T732
A
KT532
QJ3
AQ84
T9732
6
T72
95
KQ84
QJ4
A865

X-Def 08

Signalling is an absolutely indispensible requirement for good defence. Here is another example of why it is so necessary. The following deal comes from a recent match point session where the contracts were either 3NT or 4H. Once more the opening leads should have been different depending on the contract, with the defender on lead each time holding the ace and king in the same suit. The defenders should all have followed the rule that ‘God didn’t deal you both the ace and king in the same suit for you to lead any other suit’. But in one case, against 4H, only the ace is correct, whereas against 3NT either the ace or ‘fourth highest’ would have been acceptable this time. And, before anyone tells me that any lead but a spade from South will defeat 3NT, that’s true but we’re not here to defend like Deep Finesse, just defend sensibly!

Dealer East NS Vul

JT3
KT
7652
JT74
872
AJ964
K9
AQ4
Q96
Q87
AJ7
K976
AK54
532
Q843
92

X-Def 07

Let us now return to the deal I showed in our previous issue
Dealer East NS Vul

J7432
KT
A65
K84
KT8
AJ964
KT92
3
Q96
Q87
J7
A9765
A5
532
Q843
QJT2

X-Def 06

This deal comes from an On Line session on Monday 3/4/23. Some good lessons for the defence. But before I show you the full deal let me show you just the North hand and ask you some questions.

Dealer East NS Vul

J7432
KT
A65
K84

After two passes, West opens 1H.

  1. What is your bid?
  2. If you bid 1S, and East bids 2H passed to you, and (presumably) you pass, what do you lead and why?

Your reasoning when answering these questions is important, so please give me some answers (mailto: villyn@xtra.co.nz), they will help you yourself and other readers as well. But of course you may want to keep your ‘secrets’ for yourself, why help your competitors?

X-Def 05

What happened when this deal was played in a match point session?

Dealer East EW Vul

T743
Q8
A7652
J3
AQJ2
KT64
QJ
T86
K8
A972
K843
K75
965
J53
T9
AQ942

Let’s look at some of the things that did happen, and how and why the results varied.

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