Chuck Arthur

A tough defence

The game is matchpoints in a 21 table game (top was 20) on a Monday afternoon at Hazel’s Bridge Club. North deals with nobody vulnerable.




West East: John
A10962 J7
A106 KQJ9843
94 6
K73 1095
  South: Chuck  


West North East South
  1 4 Pass
Pass Pass    

The auction may be justified by explaining that East was John Cunningham. He generally pre-empts at one level higher than the field. Without giving it too much thought, I led the 5. North won the Ace and tried to cash the King. John ruffed, cashed the 9, and led the J; I covered. In time, John cashed the other high trump and knocked out the Q. North could do no better now but to cash the A. Four hearts just in.

I might have given the defence some more thought and led a club at trick 1. Then if North inserts the Jack, the rest of the defence is easy. Even if she wins the Ace, the defence is okay as long as she returns a club to set up our second club trick before the spades are set up. Even on the actual diamond lead, North might have “caught” my errant opening lead and played a club at trick 2 setting up our second club trick early enough. This however is a really tough play.

Imagine what would have happened were we playing 3rd and 5th best leads. I would have led the 7 instead of the 5. Now North would have looked around for the 5 and found it missing. She could deduce that I must have it, and that I must have led the 7 from a 4 card suit, so the second diamond is not going to cash. Now, the counterintutive play of a club at trick 2 (any club will work) is far easier.

The virtual traveller may be examined here.


John CunninghamOctober 25th, 2010 at 1:55 am

Opening lead of the diamond queen has a lot going for it.

Chuck ArthurOctober 25th, 2010 at 5:45 am

Ah yes: the Queen of diamonds.

When I first thought of this as a blog post, I started writing it, then left it for some time sitting in draft mode at the blogsite. When I finally came back to complete it, I could not remember the point that I wanted to make. I had even given it a different title than I ended up using, “Know when to break the rule” which should have reminded me. Leading the Queen of diamonds does not need partner to do something brilliant; I can switch to a club at trick 2 from my side. That makes the defense much easier.

This gives me the opportunity to make another point: the use of the 3-way suit preference signal. When the attitude to the lead is (or will become) obvious and you have various cards that you can use for signalling, use a very high card as a suit preference signal for the higher suit; a very low card as a suit preference for the lower suit, and a middle spot card to say that you might as well continue the current suit from my perspective. Here, when South leads the Queen of diamonds, North plays the Jack to say “Spades now please”, the 2 to say “Clubs now”, and the 10 to say “Continue diamonds.” I am indebted to Eric Kokish for this idea.

David LindopOctober 26th, 2010 at 5:37 pm

3/5 leads would not necessarily help. Declarer could easily be concealing the D5 from an original holding of D6-5.

Leading the DQ is a bit double-dummy. It might be a good lead if South had raised diamonds (so North would be unlikely to get the count wrong). or if North had shown a strong diamond suit.

It’s quite difficult for North to find the club shift.

However, I don’t think South should have covered the SJ. Declarer could be left with a guess on whether North started with SKQ53 (and need to run the S10. Although, on the actual deal, North is end-played after winning the SK. Too bad North didn’t have a second heart.

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