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How's Your Defense?


This hand raises some interesting points for defense, play and also bidding. West has a hand full of promise when his partner overcalls in clubs, and his cue-bid shows a game-going hand and should ask about a major-suit fit. East's notrump bid is more hopeful than factual, but west has diamond stoppers and goes on to game.

From the declarer's point of view, there is some hope of success after the diamond queen lead indicates that at least some of the diamond values are useful, but the declarer on this replay lost both his spade finesses and did not have club values to be able to promote tricks in that suit. In the meantime, his heart stoppers were forced out and in the end he was dummy-locked so he had to lead away from his remaining spade honor.

The north defender did not have a clear picture of the hand until several tricks into the play. He took the first diamond with his ace and for lack of anything more appealing, led hearts every time he was in. One of his key plays was to rise with the king of clubs on the first lead from dummy, violating the usual rule of second hand low. In this case, the play served the purpose of disrupting declarer's communication with his hand and also of clarifying the picture for his partner. What north did not know at the time was that the play of the king set up south to take at least two tricks in the suit. The final result was that the defenders took seven more tricks than the declarer and scored a top board. Many other east-west pairs stopped in two notrump, and nobody else went down three.

What lesson can we take from this story? My first conclusion is that east overstated his values by overcalling in clubs. The suit has almost no potential for tricks because of the low spots, and unless your partner can take action, there is little future to declaring this hand. I recommend a pass.

We will spend the weekend playing in the Ontario Tournament, an event we anticipate for the friendly competition and for the delicious and plentiful food provided by the volunteers.