Thursday, March 11, 2010

Defensive Hands From the Local Club

I've been wanting to write about defense for awhile because it is the most important part of bridge and the hardest. And that is probably because people don't teach defense as much as they do declarer play or bidding. because it is hard to find good examples. So, even though I don't have many good ones to write about, I'm going to anyway.

So, let's start off easy. I was on lead against the auction 1NT-2C; 2D-3NT holding: xx, xx, A9xx, AKQxx. Dummy hits with a 4=3=4=2 10 count with the T9 doubleton of clubs. Partner plays the 8 which should be count. (We were playing standard signals so 2 or 4) When partner leads an Ace you're normally supposed to unblock an honor or give count. So at this point I can almost surely place declarer with Jxxx of clubs. Without the stayman auction, it might be reasonable to exit with a major and hope declarer misguesses something and lets partner score the Q he might have. But knowing declarer doesn't have a 4 card major, I can safely give her a club and all she can come to is 4 spades, 3 hearts, and a club.

This second hand kind of bugged me. I was declarer in 4H against the only pair in the room that defended decently. First try to look only at the north hand and the bidding. What would you lead against 4H?

No lead looks attractive but the black cards look most unattractive. As long as the defense never leads a black suit, declarer needs an endplay and then maybe a good guess to bring in 4H. So, I thought 4H making 4 should be at least average. At the club, there were 4 pairs in 4H making 5, 1 in 3NT making 4, and me, in 4H down 1. Is it really that tempting to ever lead a black card against 4H? The opening lead against me was the 8 of diamonds. I won in hand with the A and led the 10 of hearts, LHO rose with the ace and led another red card. After pulling a 2nd round of trumps and cashing the diamonds, I led a spade to the K. They won the ace and played a spade to the 10 and then the Q, and I was stuck with a club loser now for down 1. Leading AK and another club is probably a better way to endplay someone but then I still have to guess whether south is leading from the A or Q when she is in the the CQ.

Moral of the story: when the bidding tells you partner has next to nothing, be passive on defense, especially when dummy is balanced, and just accept the fact that in weak fields, there is no field protection and some bad defenders will screw you over sometimes.

I think 3NT making 4 is actually somewhat reasonable. If east passes and west opens a 15-17 1NT, a club lead from north is the norm. With that start, declarer should come to 4 hearts, 3 clubs, 3 diamonds.

1 comment:

  1. You played it right. Your play works a little less than 75% of the time, while AK and a club is essentially 50%, although if North has QJ of clubs--or North has Qxx and is not good enough to unblock--you're cold, so that brings it up to the 65-70% range.

    I like the way you played the hearts. It sucks that LHO rose with the ace--I would strongly consider ducking smoothly in case partner has Qx or stiff Q, so I would have been endplayed on the heart continuation. Of course, I was probably leading ace and a heart...