Every bridge player will agree that defence is the most difficult aspect of the game. However, defence is exciting and absolutely fascinating. Enjoy the deal below where east-west put up splendid and imaginative defence to beat the lowly contract of 1NT.

IMP; South dealer, NS Vul.

West led the H2, declarer inserting dummy's jack. East won with the queen and shifted to the DK to which declarer followed with a small diamond. East continued with the jack, again winning. East now played back the heart seven. West won and cleared the suit. A spade to the king was allowed to hold when east followed with the S8. When declarer played the spade queen from his hand next, west allowed it to win again! Declarer said, ‘well defended' and conceded defeat. The complete hands are:

Discussion: There were many interesting points:

East shifting to a diamond at trick two and playing back a heart when declarer decided to holdup the ace twice.

If declarer wins the second diamond and plays a spade, west ducks twice as before. If declarer ducks a club now, the defence collects three diamond tricks, two hearts, and the spade ace to beat the contract.

Can you see the danger if west tries to keep in touch with his partner by not taking his ace when the second heart is played? The defence fails! Declarer will win the trick in dummy, and play a spade. West will be forced to duck the ace twice. Declarer will then cash the DA and exit in a heart, forcing west to open up clubs.

East giving count in spades with his eight, enabling West to duck the spades twice, thereby preventing declarer from enjoying a third trick in the suit.

Declarer would have prevailed if he had put up the HK at trick one, but west could well have led from Q-x-x-x or even A-Q-x-x.

The declarer could do nothing as the defence was razor-sharp and flawless.

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