Poll #13, Defend against 3 Notrump, 12/13/2010

During the bidding phase, it’s usually not too difficult to be a good partner.  We carefully value our hand, listen to the bidding and follow our agreements.   Unfortunately, when we are on defense, playing the correct card and making correct card signals aren’t always so clear.  Those of you who play golf can relate to your quip,

“Drive for show and putt for dough.” 

Ironically, their analogy isn’t too far from the truth for Bridge players – declarer play and defense is where tricks are won and lost.  And for those of you aren’t into sports, here’s another apt saying:

The proof of the pudding is in the eating.

So with the opponents bidding 1 Notrump,  2 Notrump, and back with 3 Notrump, our partner begins by leading the Heart Queen.   Sure enough, the dummy has a fair 8 High Card Points with a 5 card Club suit that declarer will certainly plan to promote for extra tricks.  In Hearts, we hold the 10-6-3 and after declarer inserts the dummy’s stiff H8, it’s our turn to play.  What Heart is your pleasure?  And should declarer later play the Club Queen, what do you plan to play?

South opens 1 Notrump with 17 HCP and all honors working (please don’t worry about lacking Club stoppers). 

With 8 HCP, North should invite with 2 Notrump. While we would like to count 1 extra distribution point for the fifth Club, do not do so on this holding.  Lacking primary honors in Clubs (A-K) and only one Diamond King, North should not upgrade with 5 of 9 HCP are secondary honors (Q-J).  FYI – while we normally do not value a suit like J10x, when partner opens 1 Notrump, we value all honors.

On lead, our thoughtful West attributes about 25 points for the opponents, LHO with 8-9 HCP.  West holds 10 HCP so partner East must have about 5 HCP.

West happily leads the HQ, top of a broken sequence suit – LHO did not bid 2C Stayman so responder does not have a 4 card major.

When the dummy comes down, West knows East holds either a King-Queen or an Ace. How so?  Well, since East is marked to hold 4-5 HCP and West can see 4 Jacks (3 in dummy, 1 in hand), East’s 4-5 points must be one of these two combinations. 

How about East’s observation?  Holding 5 HCP and knowing opponents have no more than 25 HCP (seeing 8 in dummy), partner West has 10-11 HCP (opener may be stretching with only 16 HCP). So West could hold 2 Aces and a Queen or perhaps 1 each Ace-King-Queen-Jack. Holding 2 Kings and 2 Queens is less likely since East can already see 4 of the 8 Kings and Queens.  Okay, back to the play – good luck with your play.

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