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Contract: 2H by West. North leads the club jack, dummy playing low. Plan your defence.

Bidding Explanation: 2C is the popular Drury convention. It is an artificial bid made by a passed hand over a third or fourth seat major opening by partner. In its basic form, Drury promises a three-card support and 10-12 points. The hand tends to be balanced. Without Drury you face the following potentially expensive disasters: a)You raise to the three level and go down. b)You raise conservatively to two and make four.

Defence: South won with the king and shifted to the ten of diamonds. Declarer played the three from his hand, partner the nine, and dummy won with the ace. When declarer led the two of spades from dummy, south put up the king!! When it won the trick, south played a second diamond. Declarer tried the jack now but north won with the queen. Declarer had to lose three more tricks and went down in the contract. The full deal is:

Discussion: Though going up with the club king and shifting to a diamond at trick two is not at all difficult, rising with the spade king at trick three is not that simple. South had to break the ‘Second hand plays least' rule, and it must have required a thorough analysis on his part to do that.

His thought process can be summed up as follows:“It is unlikely that a third-seat minimum has a poor suit. So, let me give declarer A-Q fifth in hearts. Partner would have led the DK if he had held the K-Q combination. So, let me give the declarer the diamond king. In all likelihood declarer has the diamond jack as well for partner would have led the DQ with the Q-J combination. If west has the spade ace in addition to the above, he would have bid 4H. So, his hand rates to be S Q-x H A-Q-x-x-x D K-J-x C x-x-x.''

As you would have noticed, if south fails to put up the spade king, declarer prevails. North, after winning the trick with the spade ace, will not be able to play a diamond from his side. Meanwhile, declarer can set up a spade winner for discarding his diamond loser. What if declarer has one of the two following hands, you may ask?

1) S A-x H A-Q-x-x-x D Q-x-x C x-x-x

2) S A-x-x H A-Q-x-x-x D Q-x C x-x-x

In Hand 1, declarer will win the third trick with the spade ace and play a second spade to dummy's jack. However, partner will win the spade queen, play a club to your ace, and you can play a diamond through declarer's now Q-x to defeat the contract. It is unlikely declarer has Hand 2 for he would have put up the queen as his only chance, when you shifted to a diamond!

Tip: Cultivate the habit of re-constructing declarer's hand... and soon you will find your defence improving by leaps and bounds. Once you gain a reputation as an expert defender, your opponents will tighten up their bidding against you and miss a few games!

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Keywords: Bridgecard game