An up-and-coming player who held my cards in the team game last night asked how we managed to score up 500 when she and her partner only got 50 defending the same contract. Here's what I told her.
Vul. vs. non-vul., I loved my hand and was a little surprised when RHO opened 1 diamond.
I doubled and LHO bid 1 heart. Bob, my partner, now made a free bid of 1 spade. RHO bid 2 diamonds and I jumped to 4 spades. I was surprised and annoyed as it was passed around to RHO who now bid 5 diamonds. Even though I have a powerhouse 4 loser hand, I decided to take the "sure money" and doubled.
I led a spade honor and declarer ruffed. Dummy had:
I figured we were making 4S (we were) so we needed to get the maximum we could out of 5 diamonds doubled to compensate.
I hoped that Bob had one of the round suit aces and I had two chances to figure out which one. I won the first diamond and shifted to hearts. Bingo! He won the heart ace and returned a club--just what needed to be done. He knew I had a really strong hand and had to have club values.
Now when I won the second diamond I was able to cash my king of clubs and--a bonus--give him a club ruff!
If he hadn't been able to get in with a heart, I would have been forced to try leading a club next--looking for the setting trick. I knew he had a few values because he made a free bid. I didn't want to lead a club first, because if I led into declarer's ace-queen it would be a disaster.
Just like we form a plan for the bidding and the play, we can make plans for the defense.
Here's another defensive problem from an earlier match.
I opened 1 diamond with:
LHO overcalled 1 heart, partner passed and RHO bid 1NT.
I passed, LHO bid 2 clubs and all passed. Bob led a club (trump) and dummy held:
When declarer tried to ruff the third heart in dummy, I overruffed. With these cards remaining we had to get the timing right if we were to have a chance to beat the contract:
I lead the spade king to get an attitude signal from partner. He discouraged. As diamonds was my only other viable choice and he knew it, he must want a diamond shift. He must have the king. Even though I was looking at QJ10xx of diamonds in dummy, I underled my ace of diamonds to his king and he returned a diamond to my ace, all following.
Now was the time to be careful. Before I gave him his diamond ruff I had to cash my other spade honor. Otherwise declarer could just throw her losing spade away on the good diamonds. I therefore cashed the ace of spades before returning a diamond--giving my partner an uppercut and scoring the setting trick.
Down 1 netted us 5 imps. This exact situation comes up frequently on defense and it's important to get it right. Lead an honor to get an attitude signal from partner. This should enable you to cash your tricks in the right order AND to cash all of your winners before administering the coup de grace.
See you at the table!