18 April 2011

Non material defence

Plays that don't gain any tricks would seem to be of theoretical import only. Sometimes however the correct card makes all the difference, even when that difference isn't measured in tricks. Good defenders make life easy for their partners. Imagine the following:

J 7
J T 8 7
Q 9
K Q 8 4 2
A Q 9 8 2
K J 4 2
J 9 5
and the auction has gone:
- 1 X 2
3 Pass 3NT Pass
Pass Pass
In this situation I play count leads. Partners card will always be a third or fifth. If we hadn't bid there'd be an element of reverse attitude applied but given the auction, that's a third.

Declarer must  have either KTx or Kxx. Without a hand record we can't know. Also provided I don't contribute the duck there's no difference to the number of tricks we have in the suit. Try it: win Ace and return the Queen, play the Queen or 8 and later cash the Ace. It all amounts to the same thing.

Assuming partner unblocks their hypothetical T under the Jack. If they don't do that the suit becomes blocked and we might not get in again. Give declarer something like:
K 5 4
A K 5
A 8 7 5
A 7 6
It could all be over. Let's not make partner work this out. The 8 will tell you the holding declarer has and better it lifts the load off partner.


  1. Life would be simpler still if partner was to lead his hypothetical 10. If his 3 is meant to show the 10, he must sacrifice it ( as you say ) under the queen at trick 2. Yours HBJ

  2. If South had that hand they'd overcall 1S over 1NT right?

    South must have more than that and we must be defending to keep the overtricks to a minimum. Even with that 18-count they have 9 tops.

    Matchpoint pairs I guess. Agree that the 8S is the best way to prevent overtricks. But I think at imps I would win AS and play a diamond: seems the only hope of defeating the contract is partner holding the AD (albeit unlikely)

  3. Oops that of course should say 1NT over 1S ...