Mark Horton

Spotlight on Defence

There is no doubt that defence is one of the more testing areas of the game.

Here are a few deals that caught my eye:

Dealer: South

Vul: East/West

Q J 9
9 4 3 2
10 3 2
K 10 6
West East
10 8 6 7 5
Q 8 6 A K 5
A 9 8 6 4 Q J 7 5
9 3 Q J 5 2
A K 4 3 2
J 10 7
A 8 7 4
West North: Helman

East South: Horton

Pass 1NT* Pass 2
Pass 2 Dbl Rdbl
3 Pass Pass 3
All Pass

A typical matchpoint auction, with East/West doing well to push North/South up a level.

West led the ace of diamonds and continued the suit. Declarer ruffed and exited with the jack of hearts. East won with the king and played a diamond and declarer ruffed and played another heart. West won with the queen and found the only winning defence of exiting with a heart. East won and fell from grace by exiting with the queen of clubs.

Declarer won with dummy’s king, cashed three spade ending in dummy, then the established heart, after which the ten of clubs pinned West’s nine.

On my next deal declarer missed an opportunity for immortality:

Dealer: East

Vul: East/West

6 2
J 8 7 5 4 2
K J 10 7
West East
7 5 3 Q 10 4
A K Q 10 9 3
Q A 5 4 2
A 10 7 5 4 Q J 9 6
A K J 9 8
9 8 6 3
8 3 2
West North: Helman

East South: Horton

Pass 2
Dbl Pass 2NT Pass
3 Pass 3NT All Pass

South led the three of diamonds and when the queen was covered by North’s king declarer won and advanced the queen of clubs.

When South followed with the two there was strong case for going up with the ace, not least because of who was sitting North.

As it was, the Rabbi won with the king, cashed a couple of diamonds and switched to a spade.

3NT made – but by the defence!

On my next deal the vast majority of the field missed a straightforward defence:

Dealer: East

Vul: North/South

K Q 7 4
10 7
A K 10 7 6 5 2
West East
A 5 3 2 J 10 9 6
A Q 5 4 8 2
J 9 6 4 K Q 8 5 2
Q 9 4
K J 10 9 7 6 3
A 3
J 8 3
West North: Helman

East South: Horton

Pass 3
All Pass

West led the six of diamonds and South took the queen with the ace and played the king of hearts (a spade or a diamond works best as the cards lie).

West won and the defenders continued with two more diamonds. It was easy enough now to arrange to draw trumps and come to nine tricks, +140.

If West leads, or switches to his singleton club then he will be able to get East in with a diamond to score a club ruff.

Its worth noting that the preempt prevented North/South from reaching the excellent club game.

If you find yourself coming under pressure on a deal as declarer runs a long suit or cashes winners it is important to show no sign of distress. Easier said than done, but the defender in the West chair was up to the task on my final deal:

Dealer: South

Vul: East/West

10 8
A K 2
K Q J 7
A Q 9 7
West East
K J 6 7 4 3 2
6 5 Q J 8 4 3
A 9 6 3 10 2
K 6 5 3 J 8
A Q 9 5
10 9 7
8 5 4
10 4 2
West: Miegs

North: Helman

East: Floyd

South: Horton

Pass 1NT! All Pass

Facing a passed partner these is nothing wrong with adopting a variation to your no trump range, but doing it with a healthy 19 count is taking things a little too far.

East led the four of hearts and declarer was pleased to win with dummy’s ten. A diamond to the jack was followed by the ten of spades, which lost to West’s jack. Declarer won the heart return and played the king of diamonds, West taking the ace and switching to a club. East won with the jack and returned the suit, dummy’s ten being covered by the king and ace. Declarer cashed his club tricks to reach this four card ending:

J 7
West East
K 6 7 4
9 6

When declarer cashed the ace of hearts West was in trouble, but with no sign of discomfort he discarded the six of spades. Declarer cashed the jack of diamonds and played a spade.

I know you won’t believe me, but the Rabbi finessed!

Full marks to Baytown’s Mack Miegs who was brave enough to survive the Rabbi’s Rule!

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