Image of full hand

How do you defend after partner's D5 lead and dummy's D2 play after the following bidding:

South    North
1H       1S
2C       3C
3NT    All pass

 "Your normal play is to finesse your DJ. But before you play that card, you should stop and think.

Dummy has 11HCP and you have 12 for a total of 23. North's 3C raise was invitational. For South to accept the invitation, he must have more than a minimum opening bid. So your partner is very weak. Defending one against two is never fun.

How about distribution? South's bidding promised 5+ hearts and 4+ clubs. Your partner led the D5 and the 2, 3 and 4 are in view. So your partner has 4 diamonds. You and dummy each started with 3 diamonds. Therefore, declarer also has 3 diamonds.

You now KNOW that declarer has at most 1 spade. Aha! Although you don't know which spade he has, as long as you do the right thing, it doesn't matter!

Instead of making the normal play in the diamond suit by finessing the jack, you need to take the bull by the horns. Go up with the DA, and shift to the SK! It turns out that declarer's singleton spade is the SQ. No problem. Declarer will duck dummy's SA. Continue with the S2. Partner will unblock by playing his SJ.

Regardless of when declarer wins dummy's SA, you are sure to win 3 spades and 2 aces. Meanwhile declarer has only 8 winners: 5 hearts, 2 diamonds and 1 spade. He will need to lead clubs, and you will run spades. Down 1.

If you had made the normal play at trick 1 of the SJ, declarer would win and lead clubs. If you now lead the SK, it is too late. Declarer will now win 5 hearts, 3 clubs, 1 diamond and 1 spade, and emerge with an overtrick."

This defense challenge is part of a The Bridge Shop promo article for a Martin Bergen audio-visual and interactive teaching resource called How's Your Defense? from Marty Bergen - approximately 110 minutes running time for $34.95. Click this link to find out more.