A Look at Counting in Defence, Part 2

If you haven’t read Part 1 yet, here is a quick link:

Along with Kelsey, a top-rated author from my bridge youth was Terence Reese. In one of his works, he said, “The majority of hands would be simple to play or defend if one knew the full layout. It follows that any attempt to reconstruct the deal is worthwhile.”

Well, here is a problem (given to me many years ago by American expert Michael Kopera) where I think it is possible to “reconstruct the deal.” Is it simple to defend? Let’s find out, via a Kelsey-style presentation.

Teams, N-S vul.
You are playing standard signals; high-low shows an even number.

* 1♣ = Strong Club
** X = 5-8, any

You lead your club, partner plays the nine and declarer wins the king. He leads the ♡7 to the queen, and cashes two spades; partner plays the 10 and seven. On the ace and jack of hearts, South discards low clubs. Can you reconstruct the entire deal? What do you do from here?

The first question is not difficult:

  • the hearts are known
  • to clear the spades, declarer has the queen; partner’s ♠️10 denies the jack and shows four
  • Given that South has 5-8 points, partner has the ♢A and is 4-3-1-5

So, this is the full deal:

and this is where we are when dummy leads the ♡J:

Plainly, we can win the heart and cross to partner’s ♢A for down two. But, take a moment to consider what declarer is doing. Does he think he might have a genuine play for this contract? If so, what is his plan?

Now, declarer does not know the location of the ♢A. He does know that you will win the ♡K and that you are out of clubs. If it is you who holds the ♢A, maybe you are endplayed into providing him with an entry to his three spade winners. Is that right? Can’t you exit with a heart? You can indeed, but South will duck, continuing his supposed end-play.

And now we see the best defence… win the king and cash your “low” heart, and then lead a diamond for down three.

So, above and beyond counting is a higher skill: that of putting yourself in your opponent’s seat and discerning his plan. And that’s hard work.

Do you want to follow the play or replay the hand? Click HERE.

Posted ByAvon Wilsmore

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