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The deal below came up in a pairs event where the winning continuation eluded most defenders in the east seat. See if you can fare better.

Partner leads the diamond three. You win with the ace and return the diamond jack. Partner wins with the king as declarer covers with the queen. Partner plays a third diamond and you win with the ten, dummy discarding a heart. Plan your defence.

Analysis: If south had held S Q-x-x, he might have bid two spades over north's two hearts. So, declarer's likely distribution is 2-3-4-4 or 2-2-4-5. Without a good club suit and without the queen of spades, declarer is unlikely to come to nine tricks. So assume he has them.

Let us give him: S Q-10 Hx-x D Q-9-x-x C A-K-Q-x-x (or) S Q-10 Hx-x D Q-x-x-x C A-K-Q-J-x. Suppose you return a club. Declarer will win, play the queen of spades, and then the ten of spades. You will be forced to duck the spades twice. Declarer will cash two more club winners, discarding one more heart from dummy. He will then enter dummy in a heart and drive out the ace of spades from your hand and claim the contract.

To defeat the contract, you must prevent the declarer from enjoying four tricks in spades.

Solution: As we just saw that a club shift cannot be of any help, we should attack dummy's entry to spades by shifting to a heart at trick four. The complete hands are:

Discussion

In practice when east shifted to the heart, west followed with the queen and declarer won the trick in dummy. He then cashed C A-K-Q and D 9. When declarer played the S Q next, east won and played a second heart, creating a blockage! in spades. With the spades 4-2, declarer could not make more than eight tricks.

Playing up to the weakness may be generally correct… but here it is more important to prevent declarer from enjoying tricks in spades. You achieve this by attacking dummy's entry.

If you fail to shift to a heart, declarer prevails even when he has S Q-10 H 10-2 D Q-9-7-4 C A-K-8-4-3

Draw a slanting line to each trick as the play progresses or play out the deal using a deck of cards. You will be able to understand and appreciate the defence better.

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