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In this position it is vital to play the King first.  Then, if either North or South is void of the suit, there is a marked finessing position over the Jack, and five tricks in the suit will be made.
            The unthinking player who first plays the Ace, on the assumption that it does not matter which high game card he plays first because the outstanding cards will normally divide 3-1 or 2-2, will lose a trick in the suit whenever North is void and South holds J 8 7 6.  It will occur about five times in every hundred.

                        West                                        East
                        A K 10 5 3                              9 7 6

            If West cannot afford to lose more than one trick in the suit, his play is to win either the Ace or King; if both opponents follow suit, he enters East’s hand in a side suit, leads the 7 from the table and if South plays the 8, plays the 10 from his own hand.  This protects him against losing two tricks in the suit if South started with Q J 8 x.
            There is a percentage play or safety play for almost every combination of a suit, and it may be found by analyzing the division of the remaining cards in the suit.

                        West                                        East
                        ♠ A K 4 2                                ♠ 5 3
                        ♥ A 9 7                                    ♥ 10 6 2
                        A 9 4                                    K 8 7
                        ♣ K 7 6                                   ♣ A 10 5 4 3

            Against West’s contract of Three No-Trumps, North leads a Spade.  West can make his contract only if he wins four tricks in Clubs.  After winning the first trick with the King of Spades, the right play is for West to win the King of Clubs.  If North and South both follow suit, West continues with the 7 of Clubs and plays the 4 from dummy if North plays an honour, but the 10 if North plays a low game card.  If South follows suit, there is only one more outstanding Club and it will fall under East’s Ace.  If North shows out on the second round of Clubs, then South started with Q J xx of the suit and West cannot do anything about it.  The directed play, however, guarantees that he will win four tricks in the suit if North originally held Q J xx of the suit.

            Most important of all, however, is an ability to count the cards.  It is not all that difficult, and, in the main, is largely a matter of drawing deductions from the bidding and previous play of the cards, coupled with training oneself to think along the right lines.

♠ K 8
♥ Q 10 4         
9 6 2
♣ Q 9 6 4 3    
W        E
♠ Q J 9            ♠ 10 7 5 4 2
♥ K 7                ♥ 5 3
Q 10 8              A K J 7 4
♣ K J 10 8 5              ♣ 2

♠ A 6 3
  ♥ A J 9 8 6 2
  5 3
 ♣ A 7

West deals at love all, and the auction is :

                        West                North               East                  South
                        1 ♣                  No Bid             1                   1 ♥
                        2                   2 ♥                   2 ♠                   4 ♥
                        No Bid             No                   No

            West leads Diamonds and East wins the first two tricks with the Ace and King of the suit.  A third betting theory of Diamonds is ruffed by South with the 8 of Hearts.
            As south has lost two tricks, it would seem that his contract is doomed, because West, by reason of his opening bid and lacking either the Ace or King of Diamonds, must surely be holding the Kings of Hearts and Clubs.

            South, however, has a partial count of the hand that will enable him to make his contract if he knows how to take advantage of it.  On the assumption that West almost certainly started with three Diamonds and probably five Clubs, he cannot have more than five cars in Spades and Hearts.  South, therefore, wins the Ace of Hearts (in case the King is singleton) and when the king of Hearts does not come down, he leads a Spade to dummy’s King, a Spade from dummy to the Ace in the closed hand, and then trumps his last Spade with dummy’s 10 of Hearts.  As West played the 7 of Hearts under South’s Ace and followed to three rounds of Spades, South may reconstruct the position as:

♥ Q
♣ Q 9 6 4 3
W        E

                                   ♥ K                             ♠ 10 7
                                   ♣ K ??                           ♥ 5                           
                                   J 4                         ♥ J 9 6 2
                                   ♣ ?              

                ♣ A 7

            Now, by leading the Queen of Hearts from dummy, West is put on lead with the King, and as he must return a Club, South wins two tricks in the suit.
            The play of the defenders is more difficult than that of the declarer, because a defender has to combine his hand with that of the unseen one held by his partner.  They have the slight advantage of a partnership language that enables them to exchange information and advice, but, for the most part, success in defense comes mainly from drawing poker hand the right deductions from the bidding, and the cards that have been played to previous tricks.

            To lead the highest card of a sequence, to win with the lowest, and to follow suit as the situation dictates, is a general rule that does not need to be enlarged on.  Most of the general rules for de fence play, however, have been handed down from the days when whist was the fashionable game.  At bridge reservations have to be made, because the bidding and the exposed dummy hand allow for modifications of what were only broad generalities in the first place.
            To return the suit that partner has led is not always the best play.  Sometimes it is more important to take time by the forelock.

  ♠ 8 3
♥ 10 2
K Q J 6 3 2
   ♣ A 8 5
W            E
♠ A 6 2                                    ♠ Q J 7 4
♥ K Q 9 3                                ♥ A 5 4
Q 10 9                                  8 7 4
♣ 6 4 3 2                                 ♣ 10 9 7

♠ K 10 9 5
♥ J 8 7V6
A 5
♣ K Q J

            South deals and opens the auction with One No-Trump (12 to 14 points) and North jumps him to Three.
            West leads the 3 of Hearts and East wins with the Ace.  If East returns a Heart, South has No-Trump difficulty in making nine tricks, because dummy’s 10 of Hearts protects the Jack in the closed playing poker hand and the defenders cannot win more than one trick in Spades and three in Hearts.  With the 2 of Hearts on the table, East should appreciate that his partner cannot hold more than four Hearts and that they cannot be better than K Q 9 3, because if they were K Q J 3 he would have led the King and not the 3.  As once East gives up the lead he can never regain it, he must take advantage of the of time factor, the tempo, and lead the Queen of Spades. 

The only chance of defeating the contract is to find West holding the Ace of Spades, and as South’s bid of One No-Trump postulates a maximum of 14 points, East who holds 7 points and can count 10 on the table, can count West with just enough room in his hand for the Ace of Spades as well as for the King and Queen of Hearts.
            To cover an honour with an honour may be good play in many cases, but it is not when the honour has been led from a sequence. 

            The Queen is led from dummy.  If East covers with the King, the declarer will win four tricks in the suit by winning with the Ace and returning the suit to finesse against West’s 10.  East, therefore, should not cover.  The Queen will win, but now the defenders will always win a trick in the suit because if the declarer continues with dummy’s Jack, the lead is no longer from a sequence and East covers it with the King with K x only, East should cover the Queen, otherwise the declarer, after winning dummy’s Queen may continue with a low Spade (not the Jack)from the poker table and East’s King will be wasted.

Q J 9 6
W        E
10 8 6                            K 4 3
A 7 2

Second hand plays low; third hand plays high, is another general rule that has been handed down from the past. It is, rule worth remembering, because exceptions when second hand should play high are few and far between, and when third hand sees only low cards on his right, there are virtually no exceptions to his playing high.

8 3 2
W        E
J led                K 6 4

                                   West leads the Jack.  East should play the King like a man.  He knows that the declarer holds the Queen (otherwise West would have led it in preference to the Jack) and if declarer holds the Ace as well the King is doomed.  East, therefore, must play on the chance that West has led from A J 10 x and that declarer holds Q x x.

            A very important weapon in the armory of the defenders is the echo or peter, sometimes called the come-on or poker high-low signal.  Reduced to its simplest terms, when a defender plays a higher card followed by a lower one of the same suit, it is a request to partner to play the suit.  In many cases a defender can afford to play a lower card is a discouragement to him.  Against a trump contract, the high-low play in a side suit shows that a doubleton is held and that the third round can be trumped.  If the play is made in the trump suit itself, it shows that three trumps are held.  Against a No-Trump contract, the echo shows length in the suit, usually four cards.
            The defenders are frequently compelled to discard, and nearly always discarding presents them with a problem.  The general rules to follow are not to retain the same suit as partner; not to discard from a suit in which you have the same length as dummy or suspect the declarer has in his hand; and never to discard so that the declarer is given information.

            Counting the cards is, of course, as important to the defenders as it is to the declarer.  In some ways, however, the defenders have it a bit easier.  If the declarer is in a No-Trump contract he will have limited his hand to an agreed number of points.  It follows, therefore, that if the declarer’s limit is 16 to 18 points and he has shown up with 15 points, the defenders know that he has left in his hand No-Trump more than a King or its equivalent.  In much the same way, in a suit contract the declarer and his dummy will rarely hold less than eight trump cards between them.  It follows, therefore, that if a defender holds three trumps, he knows that his partner is probably holding not more than two.
            In conclusion, it may be said that good defense consists in playing those cards that give as much information as possible to partner, and making things as easy as possible for him; by contrary, in playing  those cards that give as little information as possible to the declarer and making things as online poker difficult as possible for him.  Whenever it is possible to do so, a defender should play the cards that the declarer knows are in his hand, and retain those of which he knows nothing.  If all this comes as a counsel of perfection- the best bridge players are perfectionists.







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