A Nice Defence Against A Low Level Contract

Sometimes the most interesting problems are very common in defence. What should we lead? How can we imagine the opener's hand without information from bidding? How should we control the defence?

We played a nice defence with Tom Szabo, where all those problems came together.

It might be also interesting for our readers to think with us step by step.

Let's see, what had happened!

I had the following hand in West after a very short bidding: South opened 1♠, which was round passed.

I had a lot of spades, and a medium strength, so partner should have reopened this hand easily, except opener is very strong, or partner has a lot of spades . In this case he still could bid 1NT if he had 12 points or more and a spade stopper.

The fact, that he didn't, should warn us, that we should play the defence very carefully and overthought, because declarer seems to be very strong.

The 1st step should be the opening lead.

All our suit combinations look very dangerous, except our doubleton nine of hearts. Still we know, that opener is probably very strong, and he might have some hearts in his hand, otherwise partner could have reopened the bidding with heart.

Dummy looks to be weak, so if partner has something in heart, and declarer too, so the nine of hearts lead can help a lot for the declarer.

On the other hand, I had strong combination in trumps, so we don't want to ruff in this hand.


Diamond is not a good suit to lead, trump lead isn't so good, so I started considering the Ace of clubs lead.

Why can that be good?

I don't have medium card in clubs, so we can't finesse the declarer in this suit.

It can be our strongest suit, so declarer can be tapped in case it is his weakest suit.

I will most probably win the 1st trick with the Ace of clubs and I can have more information later.

So I led the Ace of clubs, and the following dummy came up in North:

A small club came from dummy, partner gave the three of clubs, and declarer put the Queen.

We don't play in a regular partnership, but using inverted signals, declarer could easily have singleton Queen of clubs.

Now, we can ruff heart with the 7 of spades, so we shouldn't avoid ruff in the dummy.


I can see 9 cards in diamonds. If partner meant the small club as Lavinthal lead directing, than he likes diamond.

Why is that signal probable? I led the Ace of clubs, and the King came to the dummy, so partner can see, that I didn't lead from tha Ace and King.

So I can have trouble how to continue, and therefore Lavinthal seems to be the right weapon here.

So I played the the 5 of diamonds, declarer took a small diamond from the dummy and won the trick with the Queen of diamonds in the hand.

This is a deceiving play, but we know Tom has singleton in diamonds, because otherwise he had gaved a honour to this trick.

He cashed the Ace of hearts, and the King of hearts, and he tried to ruff a heart in the dummy, but I could ruff the 3rd round of hearts with the 7 of spades, and I could play a diamond, which was ruffed by Tom, he played the 4th round of heart, I ruffed it with the nine, I played my last diamond and Tom sould still ruff it with a small trump.

Now we came to this end-play situation:


Tom as East could play without cost his last heart, a triple chicane, which caused an extra trick for us in trump.

If declarer doesn't ruff, I can win a trick with the ten of spades.

Therefore declarer ruffed with the Jack of spades, hoping, that I overruff it, but I discarded a club, and later we could finesse declarer's KIng with the Ace and ten, and with the singleton Queen at Tom.

The complete hand looked like this:


The contract went 1 down, and we scored pretty well, most declarers won 1, making seven or eight tricks, and some pairs could play a part contract in diamonds, making 10 tricks easily. Some declarers won 3NT, some declarers lost 3NT or 5 contracts.

Even holding declarer in 7 tricks would have been good for us.