Bridge Puzzles

Don’t let a lengthy opposing bidding sequence put you to sleep. The opponents’ detailed bidding gives you an opportunity to extract useful information. As defender or declarer, discipline yourself to assess the situation before playing to the first trick. The extra time you spend prior to trick one will be made up as the deal progresses. Because your plan provides clarity, your results will improve.

16. As a defender, analyze the following sequence:

Opener Responder
1♠ 1NT (forcing)
2 2NT
3 3♠
4♠ Pass

a. What do you know about opener’s distribution?

b. How about responder’s distribution?

c. What is known of each player’s strength?


a. Opener is either 6–5 or 5–5 in the majors, with 6–5 more likely. Why? Opener’s first three bids described at least at 5–5. When responder offered a delayed preference on a doubleton, opener would often try 3NT (if he bid at all) with a 5–5–2–1 pattern. Because opener was content to play in spades, the chances are that he holds a six-card suit. By the way, opener won’t be 5–6 with longer hearts because in that case, he would bid 4 at his last turn, not 4♠.

b.Responder has a doubleton spade and at most a doubleton heart. With three hearts, he would insist on hearts as trump. Likely distributions are 2–1–5–5, 2–2–5–4, or 2–2–4–5. Responder’s 2NT was natural and non-forcing (though forward-going), so his distribution can’t be too unbalanced.

c. Opener has more than a minimum; 3♠ was non-forcing. The extra values might be distributional, such as a sixth spade, or a few extra HCP (15–16).

17. Sitting East you are defending 1NT.

North (Dummy)
♠ 10 7 6 2
K 10 4
K 8 6
A 9 2
East (You)
♠ Q 9 8 5 3
A 6
10 9 7 2
♣ 10 3

The auction:

South North
1 1♠
1NT (12-14) Pass

Partner leads a fourth-best 2.

a. What is declarer’s exact distribution?

b. How many high-card points does declarer probably hold?

c. What’s your defensive plan?


a. Declarer is 1–4–4–4. That may be surprising, but follow the logicbut follow the logic trail. Partner’s heart lead places declarer with four hearts. There are eight clubs in the unseen
hands. If partner held five, he presumably would have picked clubs over hearts for the opening lead. Place the clubs 4–4. Declarer opened 1 holding four clubs; therefore he must hold at least four diamonds. Four hearts, four diamonds, and four clubs leaves room for a singleton spade.

b. In the 12–14 range, declarer probably holds 13 or 14. This inference comes from considering partner’s distribution. Once we place declarer with 1–4–4–4, partner is left with 3–4–2–4. Why
didn’t partner enter the auction by doubling 1? Evidently, he felt he was too weak. Of the missing 24 HCP, partner rates to have 10–11 and declarer 13–14.

c. Shift to a low spade. Declarer’s weakness has been unmasked. If declarer’s spade singleton is the jack or king, jump- start the defense by running five spade tricks. Your careful reasoning is about to pay off.