Hope you all had a great summer and good to see you all again after the holidays. OK now you’re back let’s get going…
When you defend you must not sit there following suit when you have to while wondering about the price of steam cleaners. You have to DO something! You have to think. But what? Sometimes the great god of bridge will gift you the high cards to defeat the opponents iffy contract. Other times you may have between you and partner the right cards to get the contract down but too too often neither of you realise what is going on until it’s over. It’d be great if you could look at partner’s hand – or partner could see your hand – then you’d both know exactly what to do. Sadly the rules of bridge forbid this. But the rules of bridge do allow you to SIGNAL to partner in various ways your holdings in particular suits. Armed with this vital knowledge you help each other.
Take this frequent situation:
AQxx .............. you
KJ10x ............. xx
The contract is 4 Spades and partner leads the Ace of Hearts. What card do you play and why? Let’s re-phrase the question slightly. What card do you want PARTNER to play next? After the HA, partner has a problem. What to lead next? Not really knowing what’s going on partner has a complete guess whether or not to lead: 1) another heart, 2) a spade 3) a diamond or 4) a club.
In this situation, remember the suit rankings. The lowest ranking suit is Clubs, then Diamonds, Hearts and Spades in that (alphabetical) order. You can use this knowledge as part of a system to communicate your like or dislike of a lead of a particular suit.
In the example above you would quite like it if partner led a diamond. Partner could lead another heart, which would be ruffed in dummy, or even lead a spade. The one thing you really really don’t want partner to do is lead a club. If they do, dummy plays the jack, you must cover with the queen and of course declarer has the ace and now no club losers. But how – logically – can you dissuade partner from the disastrous club lead at Trick 2?
Remember the suit rankings? Clubs is the LOWEST ranking suit so – logically – the LOWEST card you play would ASK for a club lead. So DON’T play your lowest heart. Instead, under the lead of the ace of hearts drop the NINE of hearts, asking for the HIGHER ranking suit between diamonds and clubs. Easy when you know how, isn’t it!
Of course, this means when you are the one on lead with the Ace of Hearts you’d better watch out what card partner plays, hadn’t you?
Making A Plan
You are declarer. The lead is faced. The dummy goes down. The bids are back in the boxes. Now what? No, no, no the answer is not “PANIC!” The answer is: make a plan. Think. Take your time. How many tricks do you need? Where are they coming from? How many losers have you got? How are you going to get rid of them? It doesn’t matter how hopeless or how marvellous the contract is – the aim is the same. To do your absolute best with cards you and your partner were dealt. So remember
NO PLAN - NO CHANCE!
See you next week!