Saturday, July 14, 2007

Discourse on Defense ***good advice--add Smith Signals

I have been looking for some good defensive hands which can be explained relatively simply. Bob Klein and I had a couple yesterday at matchpoints.

What things do we think about as we are defending a hand? I have been asked this question and will present my thoughts in a stream of consciousness fashion as I describe these hands.

1. After LHO opened 1H and RHO responded 1NT I couldn't get into the auction with the hand below. Partner hesitated for a while before passing. Had he doubled I probably would have left it in as I had a great lead, had tricks, they were vul., etc.


I lead the SK and see:


My hand: KQJ10

Declarer wins the second spade and leads a D to the King. Partner thinks a while before winning and returning a spade.

As I cash my spades the defense is becoming clear. Declarer has diamonds and possibly no way to her hand now that the spade ace is gone. Maybe we can keep her on the board. I need to lead a club and it is important that I choose the right one. I can't waste the 10 and the low one looks too encouraging, so I settle on the 8. Declarer plays the K and partner plays the J. Maybe partner also has the club Q so that declarer can't get to her hand in clubs.

She leads the HQ from the board and it holds. I can't win it because she might have started with Kx of hearts and be able to get to her hand with the HK. She plays another H and partner now wins his King, declarer discarding a diamond. Now our preparation pays off as partner returns the CQ. Declarer wins the ace and then exits with a club to my 10.

We have now won 3 spades, 1D, 1H and 1C. When I cash my HA she is down 1. As the dummy is now good I play the DJ to finally let her into her hand in case partner has another diamond trick. He doesn't and down 1 is above average.

This is a fun and effective defense--locking declarer either in his hand or on the board--whatever it takes to prevent declarer from taking all his tricks! The situation comes up frequently.

It is important to keep counting our defensive tricks.

2. Here is a variation on the same theme. RHO opens 1NT, his partner bids Stayman, he shows hearts and they end up in 3NT. I am on lead with:


As I finger my 4th best club I consider the fact that my partner didn't double the 2C (Stayman) bid. My second choice would be the D9, but I decide to go with the club. Dummy hits with:


I note that there wasn't a transfer bid and that they might have missed a spade fit. They may be in an unusual (anti-field) contract. This can be good or bad, but it is important to stay focused and alert. Declarer plays low and wins partner's club 7 with his 8.

The first thing I do is count the points so that I know how many my partner has. Let's see--declarer and dummy have 26-28 combined and I have 7. That leaves partner with 5-7. I always get this count right away. Getting the count is easiest at the beginning of the hand and necessary for best defense. It also helps you prepare for any key plays.

Declarer plays 4 rounds of hearts before starting on spades. I note that this is probably not best for him...he should be trying to set up the spades first and then using hearts as entries to the spades. He could also try for an extra club trick. He finally starts spades by leading the J from his hand. I cover with the Q and partner wins the Ace.

Here are the remaining cards--dummy is nearly decimated.

My hand: x

Partner returns a diamond. Declarer wins the ace as I discourage. I don't really need to discourage as partner should know my remaining cards-as I know his. I think he has 2-3 points left in diamonds and he should know that I have the AJ of clubs because declarer is not playing clubs.

Declarer leads a spade to the 10 and partner wins the next spade trick with the 9. Now partner finally returns his remaining club and I win my ace. Note the timing. We were careful not to give declarer a second trick in clubs. I don't take my ace until dummy has no more entries.

I return the diamond 9 and declarer eventually has to give partner two tricks in diamonds. Down 1 for a tie for top.

Declarer's hand:

The opponents should have been in 4S and the declarer didn't give the hand best play...but it is still important to be attentive and defend correctly to take advantage of the situation.

To summarize, count your partner's points, try to figure out what declarer is trying to do and then work to thwart his plan, don't waste your honors and pay attention to signals and timing.

Good defense can be challenging, but also very satisfying.

See you at the table!

1 comment:

Len said...

1) It looks like the hands are:

You: KQJT Axxx Jx T8x
Dummy: xxx QJTxx K AKxx
Pard: xxxx Kx Axxxx QJ
Declarer: Ax 9x QT987 9xxx

From pard's point of view, you might have C9 instead of CT, and you might defend as you did. Then declarer will make THREE. Maybe he should duck the first diamond.