Defensive Puzzles


Vince Wilmont

1. Playing IMPs in a recent sectional tournament with an expert partner, you, West, create a defensive problem for yourself:
N-S Vulnerable

♠ Q 7 6 3
A 7 6
Q 7 5 3
♣ A 8
♠ K J 10 2
5 2
A K 8
♣ J 9 5 3
West North East South
1 Pass 1NT
All Pass

You lead the ♣3 (in retrospect, not the best of leads) and the 8 holds in dummy, partner playing the 4 (upside down count and attitude). Declarer then cashes the ♣A, partner playing the 6. Declarer then leads a heart toward his hand. Plan the defense.

Full Deal
♠ Q 7 6 3
A 7 6
Q 7 5 3
♣ A 8
♠ K J 10 2 ♠ A 9 8 4
5 2 K 10 8 4 3
A K 8 J 9 4
♣ J 9 5 3 ♣ 6 4
♠ 7
Q J 9
10 6 2
♣ K Q 10 7 2
Answer

Your partner may not realize how bad the opening lead was. You know that if declarer can get to their hand, they have at least seven tricks. You must make an unusual play to let partner know that action is called for. At trick two, you must drop the jack of clubs. This is called an alarm clock signal. The unnecessary play of a high honor tells partner that there’s the need to make an unusual play. In this instance, you need to alert partner that the club suit is coming in for declarer. The only chance to beat the hand is for partner to win the first heart, and start on spades or diamonds. A lead of either suit will allow East/West to defeat the hand.

2. Now a matchpoint problem. The double is too aggressive at IMPS, but at matchpoints, you, South, double to protect your partscore.
E-W Vulnerable

♠ K 5
Q 9 5 4
Q 2
♣ A Q 10 8 3
♠ A 9 7 6 4
7
A K 5
♣ K 7 6 4
West North East South
Pass 1♠
Dbl 3♠ 4 Dbl
All Pass

You lead the 7 against the doubled contract. Trick one goes 7, 4, 3, K. Declarer leads a trump at trick two. How do you defend?

Full Deal
♠ Q J 10 8
J 10 8 3 2
8 7
♣ J 9
♠ K 5 ♠ 3 2
Q 9 5 4 A K 6
Q 2 J 10 9 6 4 3
♣ A Q 10 8 3 ♣ 5 2
♠ A 9 7 6 4
7
A K 5
♣ K 7 6 4
Answer

Partner’s 3♠ bid was preemptive. I expect that partner has four spades to the queen. This is essentially your only hope. Win the trump lead and under lead your ♠A. Your expert partner drops the ♠Q under the king, letting you know you are on the right track. Win the next trump and under lead again, Partner can win the second spade and deliver your ruff, setting the contract.