Defense in Bridge is its hardest component. Not many can come up with the expert defense that is at times required to beat the contract. This is so because not many of us are prone to work hard at Bridge, losing concentration at times. Moreover, many of us just get fed up in trying out the mathematical odds at placing the declarer's distribution. Although logic reigns supreme in Bridge dynamics, a lot of players just don't reach out for it and therefore, fall into the error of misplaying the vital card at defense missing out at the timing, which is so vital if the defense has any chance to succeed.
Of course not every hand at defense is hard to decipher. Some are easily resolved by plain common sense. Others required one's thinking cap to work out the proper solution. We are all aware of what constitutes good defense the inferences to be picked from the opening lead and the subsequent table play plan of the declarer. Proper signalling between the defenders is essential as both need to be on the same wave length to pick up the right signals and inferences for a solid defense.
Today's illustration is not an easy one. Suppose you are east defending a contract of 6S on the following hand after seeing your partner leading 2H, what would be your next move when dummy's QH loses to your King with declarer following with the 5H as the dummy spreads before you as under:
The bidding has gone as under:
When declarer's finesse of the QH loses to your king, you got a lot of thinking to do before you return the card that in your opinion can be detrimental for the declarer in his chances to make the little slam in spades.
Let us ponder at the prospects before us. Declarer appears to have a self sufficient solid trump suit of 6-7 cards. He probably has 2 hearts of which 1 is lost for him. That leaves him with 5 or 4 cards in the minors. The diamonds in dummy look awesome. It is obvious of course by declarer's 5 NT call that he holds all the remaining aces. This would mean 5 diamond tricks, 1 heart and most likely 6 trump tricks- leaving a club whose ace the declarer has promised. So what can prevent him from taking his 12 tricks unless there may be a hole in his trump suit, which on the face of bidding is not likely because with the spade loser the contract is doomed. Keeping the above prospects before you what did you return as east? It is so easy to fall into the tempting lead of a club return looking at dummy's insipid clubs lying wide open? Did you return a club? If so, I don't blame you as most easts would do exactly the same. A few others would however, try a trump to put the declarer to immediate test in case there is a finesse involved before he can have the luxury of running his solid diamonds in dummy.
As it is, both would be wrong. This was a tough nut to crack. The key inference lies in the fact that south by bidding 5NT has shown all 3 aces and if he has a trump loser the same is not going to vanish putting declarer inevitably to defeat. Even a club return can't help the defense as declarer can always discard his club losers on dummy's diamond. What then is left for the defense? The scissors coup a cut in communications with the declarer cut off from the table in time. Look at the diamond scenario, 3 diamonds are missing and if south's AD is bare, then his sole link with dummy lies in the AH. Cut him prematurely before he can unblock AD. So a heart return from east is the killing one. True it gives declarer the undeserving extra heart trick but in exchange declarer loses 4 diamond tricks and his slam. In Bridge at times, what looks silly is willy nilly the best.
A Q 10
A Q J 10 7
9 7 2
K J 8 4
8 5 4 3 2
1 D 2S
3 D 4 N T
5 D 5 N T
6 D 6 S