When your partner leads to a trick and you are third person to play to that trick, a useful guideline is third hand High. When you are the last player on your side to contribute a card to a trick, you want to try and win the trick for your side, if possible; otherwise you want to help promote winners in your partner’s hand.
You need to play as high a card as necessary to try to win the trick. With a choice of equal (touching) cards, play the lowest. Holding queen, jack, 3 — play the jack —as high as necessary. When partner watches what Declarer puts on the jack to win the trick ( Declarer plays the ace) —-partner will know you must have the queen as well as the jack!
If partner leads a high card which will win the trick, you don’t need to play a higher card unless you have to unblock the suit by overtaking partner’s card. Consider this scenario, partner leads the King vs a no trump contract, this lead suggests partner has the queen and jack and maybe more cards in that suit. You are sitting with the ace, and a little card in P’s led suit. You must play the ace and return the small card to get back into partner’s hand. By unblocking the suit your side will be able to run the suit!
Another situation where you only play as high as necessary is the following: if DUMMY, 2nd hand has a high card that is not played (queen for instance) — and you have the King, 10, 4 — play the 10 which might win the trick! Keep the queen on the board trapped!!!!
The last lesson dealt with leads against a no trump contract. This lesson is quite different as the presence of a trump suit influences both the way Declarer plays and the way the defenders try to defeat the contract.
Starting with the opening lead, the defenders must take a different approach in choosing the suit to attack and in choosing the specific card to lead.
In this lesson we will look at where the differences arise and we’ll come up with guidelines for making the lead against a SUIT (trump) contract. Let’s start pecking away:
USE THE FOLLOWING GUIDELINES WHEN CHOOSING A SUIT TO LEAD AGAINST A TRUMP CONTRACT:
In order of choices:
Lead Partner’s suit (assuming she bid a suit)
Lead a STRONG 2 CARD SEQUENCE [K Q]—always lead the top card first
Lead an UNBID SUIT
Lead a short suit —-CAUTION—only if partner is able to give you a ruff before trumps are drawn. If you have an ace and a small card in a side suit —lead your ace, then small —- if you have the ace of trump you can win the first trump led by Declarer, then lead a card to your partner to win a trick and lead back the suit you are now void in. Partner now knows you are out of the suit you led (because you played “high card followed by a low card —HIGH/LOW. Now you can get a ruff.
Lead a trump when Declarer is likely to want to trump losers in dummy
Declarer opened 1 SPADE and her partner responded 2 HEARTS, Declarer now bids 3 Dimaonds and her partner passes!
———think about Declarer’s bidding? What do we know?
Declarer has 5 spades and at least 4 diamonds
Declarer’s partner does not have 3 spades —DECLARER WILL WANT TO RUFF SPADE LOSERS IN DUMMY!!!!!!!!! Foil her plan by taking the trump off the board!
Lead from a long suit when you or partner have 4 or more TRUMP! This is called a forcing Defense -you try to shorten up Declarer’s trump in her hand (make her ruff in her hand) so you will have more of her trump than she has in her hand
CHOOSING WHICH CARD TO LEAD
Lead the top card from a DOUBLETON
Lead the top of touching honours
Lead fourth highest with no sequence
Never lead an unsupported ACE – it’s ok to lead ACE when you hold the KING
OR IF YOUR PARTNER BID THE SUIT DURING THE AUCTION —
Remember Aces are meant to capture Kings!
If you’re hand is such that whatever you lead you are helping the Declarer, lead trump! Not an unsupported ACE!
Leads from NOTHING (e.g., 8 6 2)——when you lead the “top of nothing” partner knows you do not have an honour. The downside is Partner won’t know it is not a doubleton until the third time round!
CLICK “FOLLOW” then you will get an e-mail when each instalment is posted. IT’S THAT SIMPLE!
There will be SEVEN more posts on Defense over the next few months.
OPENING LEADS VS NO TRUMP CONTRACTS BY OPPONENT
Opening leads are the most important part of defense and one of the most challenging.
On most hands, however, a useful lead can be found by:
– listening carefully to the bidding
– finding clues in the auction
It is my plan to give you basic info to keep the guesswork to a minimum and to find strategies to find the best possible and often the killer lead. Keep in mind once Dummy appears, you will have more info available and your initial strategy may need revision.
It is very gratifying to defeat the contract by getting off to the best defense. As these defense strategies are posted, make time with your bridge partner or group, to discuss and implement them.
When your partner has BID a suit and you are defending, you should lead partner’s suit unless you clearly have a much better alternative. Also if your partner has LED a suit, you should RETURN PARTNER’S SUIT WHEN YOU GET A CHANCE, unless you have something clearly better to do and don’t mind looking for a new partner🤣
DEFENDING AGAINST A NO-TRUMP CONTRACT
1. If partner has bid a suit lead it;
– top card of a DOUBLETON (eg. 9 7 – lead the 9)—(Q 5 lead Q)
– top of touching honours (E.g., Q, J, 10 4) lead the Q, followed by J, then the 10 etc.)
– no sequence in P’s suit lead low – 4th from longest & strongest
2. If Partner did not bid vs no trump contract :
—lead “top of touching honours” from a 4 card suit or longer suit in your hand.
There are three types of sequences as follows:
A- Regular sequence:
Q J 10 x — always & forever (I promise) lead the “TOP CARD – the Queen!!! Now partner knows you have 3 high cards that touch —the Queen followed by the Jack and ten and maybe a couple of small cards!!!
Guideline: With a “REGULAR SEQUENCE” always lead the TOP OF TOUCHING!
B- Broken Sequence
Q J 9 x x – two “touching high cards that touch with a break” —-notice if you lead the “9” – declarer can win the first trick with the 10!!!!!!!
Guideline: With a “BROKEN SEQUENCE” treat as if it were a “regular sequence” and lead the HIGHEST CARD—the queen from Q J 9 —the TOP OF TOUCHING!
K J 10 x x – a sequence of two or more cards that touch the “J 10” with a “higher-ranking” card in the suit!
If you led the King, Declarer could win the Ace and still hold the Queen!
Guideline: With an ‘INTERIOR SEQUENCE” (K J 10 X X) lead the TOP of the touching honours”—lead the J!
3. With no sequence:
lead 4th from longest and strongest (with a choice of suits lead the stronger or the unbid suit)
Don’t forget to hit ‘FOLLOW” so will be get a reminder in your e-mail when a new lesson is posted.
For updates on “Cosmic Door” follow my author page on Facebook @ www.MargieGrams.com
Available NOW in paperback (to order on-line) and e-books: chapters.indigo.ca, Barnes&Noble,kobo,nook and as shown below – Amazon
“THE RULE OF ELEVEN” —USED WHEN DEFENDING AGAINST NO TRUMP CONTRACTS
If you don’t have a 3 card sequence (Q J 10 x), you usually select a suit of at least 4 cards and start with your fourth-best card; for example, the “6” from the fourth-best card, say K-10-8-6-4.
You may not know that the 4th-best lead is the oldest convention in bridge (bet you thought conventions were only about bidding). You may also be unaware of the main advantage of selecting that “particular card” from your long suit.
It’s called the “Ruleof 11”—a key element of defense well worth discussing with partner:
Here’s how it works: SOUTH is Declarer in 3 No Trump – West leads
PARTNER: (WEST) HOLDS:
Diamonds (D) K J 8 6 4 – W leads 6 of D’s
DUMMY: (D) 10 7 2 – DECLARER PLAYS 2 D’s FROM DUMMY
YOU (EAST) HOLD: (D) Q 9 —-Before you play the Queen, take a moment!
SUBTRACT 6 (P’S SUIT) FROM 11 = 5
THIS ANSWER TELLS YOU HOW MANY CARDS HIGHER THAN “6 D’s” CAN BE FOUND “OUTSIDE OF P’S HAND” —-IN THIS CASE THE ANSWER IS 5
—- YOU LOOK AT DUMMY AND IT HAS TWO CARDS OVER 6
–YOU LOOK AT YOUR HAND AND YOU HAVE TWO CARDS OVER 6
THAT’S 4 CARDS OVER 6 – SO DECLARER (SOUTH) HAS 1 CARD OVER SIX –
YOU PLAY THE QUEEN & IF SOUTH DOES NOT PLAY THE HIGHER CARD YOU CONTINUE WITH THE 9 – IF SOUTH HOLDS UP THE ACE A 2ND TIME PARTNER OVERTAKES YOUR 9 WITH HIS JACK AND CONTINUES DIAMONDS TO DRIVE OUT SOUTH’S ACE
HERE IS ANOTHER WAY TO USE THE RULE OF 11
DUMMY (N) -CLUBS (C) K 5 2
YOU (EAST) – (C) A 10 9 3
PARTNER WEST LEADS THE 7 CLUBS AND DECLARER (S) PLAYS LOW FROM DUMMY. What should you play”
Use the Rule of 11
7 – 11 = 4
you see: one card higher than “4” in Dummy’ – you have 3 cards higher than 4 for a total of 4 cards – Declarer (South) does not have any cards higher than 7 in her hand!!!!
You play the 3 of clubs from your hand!
Using the Rule of 11 and other clues from the bidding and play, you can make better decisions as a Defender. It takes some practice but if you are diligent in applying the Rule of 11 vs No Trump contracts, it will become second nature to you – and you hope- your partner!
Note: If partner leads a 2 you know Partner only has a 4 card suit! Think on that one!
A “REVERSE BID” is the backbone of a “standard bidding structure”. It is not a special “CONVENTION” THEREFORE “it does not need to be alerted”!
TODAY, I will discuss “Opener’s Reverse” (there is also a Responder’s Reverse – another lesson)!
A reverse is always the second bid made by opener after partner has responded at the ONE LEVEL!
WHAT MUST YOU HAVE TO REVERSE:
17+ high card points
a two-suited hand – longer in the first suit bid than the second suit mentioned (IN OTHER WORDS AN UNBALANCED HAND)
Look at these two bidding sequences:
OPENER: 1 HEART
responder: 1 spade
OPENER: 2 DIAMONDS
OPENER IS SHOWING 5+ HEARTS AND 4+ DIAMONDS AND A MINIUMUM OPENER
AS Responder, if you can SUPPORT hearts you can keep the bidding low if you have a minimum responding hand
AS Responder you can pass diamonds with 4+ cards in that suit & a minimum hand —as opener has indicated he has a TWO-SUITED minimum hand as well!
Let’s look at this sequence:
OPENER: 1 DIAMOND
RESPONDER: 1 SPADE
OPENER: 2 HEARTS —this bid identifies that Opener has made “a reverse bid” by bidding a new suit, after Responder’s bid at the one level, that is higher on the bidding ladder than the one opener started with
NOW— IF YOU, THE RESPONDER WANT TO SUPPORT DIAMONDS YOU ARE FORCED TO DO SO AT THE “THREE LEVEL” —— YOU ARE BEING PUSHED!
OPENER HAS DONE A REVERSE ORDER FOR BIDDING HER TWO SUITS!!!!
SHE IS SHOWING LONGER DIAMONDS, THAN HEARTS AND 17+ POINTS AND THAT BID IS “FORCING” FOR ONE ROUND OF BIDDING EVEN IF YOU, AS RESPONDER, ONLY HAVE 6 POINTS!
IF YOU HAVE HEART SUPPORT – AND MINIMUM DO A SIMPLE RAISE if not you must bid again!
IS THIS SEQUENCE A REVERSE BY OPENER?
OPENER: 1 DIAMOND —- RESPONDER: 1 SPADE
OPENER 2 CLUBS
ANSWER: NO – AS OPENER’S 2ND SUIT RANKS LOWER THAN THE FIRST SUIT
OPENER 1 CLUB—RESPONDER 1 SPADE
OPENER 2 DIAMONDS
ANSWER: YES – OPENER’S 2ND SUIT RANKS HIGHER THAN 1ST AND IS PUSHING YOU TO THE THREE LEVEL IF YOU WANT TO CHOOSE TO PLAY IN CLUBS!
TRY A REVERSE NEXT TIME YOUR HAND QUALIFIES — YOU’LL BE AMAZED TO SEE THE LOOK OF SURPRISE ON YOUR PARTNER’S FACE!
Would you like to be able to show TWO suits at the same time, after your opponent has opened the bidding?
Let’s say this is your hand:
your RHO has opened 1 CLUB
If you bid 2 CLUBS (CUEBID OF OPPONENT’S SUIT) —
YOU TELL PARTNER YOU HAVE 5 HEARTS AND 5 SPADES – THIS IS CALLED THE MICHAEL’S CUEBID CONVENTION
If you didn’t have this “tool” in your competitive bag – you would have to overcall one spade. If partner of opener bids 1 no trump, pass by your partner , and opener bids 3 no trump ——now if you show your hearts – you are too high and will get doubled for penalty.
—-OK – YOU DON’T GET THE FINAL CONTRACT but from a defensive point of view, if you use Michael’s Cue Bid – partner will know you have 5 hearts as well as 5 spades and if her hearts are longer than spades, she will lead the longest major suit between the two hands>Good chance to defeat the opponent’s contract!
The playing strength of two-suited hands is well known to all bridge players and WHEN announcing two suits you have a much better chance to find a fit and steal a part-score!
HERE IS THE BIDDING”|:
RHO opens 1 ♣️ – 2 ♣️ Shows spades and hearts
RHO OPENS 1 ♦️ – 2 ♦️Shows spades and hearts
RHO OPENS 1 ♥️ – 2 ♥️Shows spades and a minor
RHO OPENS 1 ♠️ – 2 ♠️Shows hearts and a minor
WHAT DO YOU NEED TO USE MICHAEL’S CUE BID?
ABSOLUTELY must have two FIVE CARD SUITS
LESS THAN 10 POINTS OR MORE THAN 16 POINTS —THIS IS REFERRED TO A “MINI-MAXI MICHAELS!
WITH A HAND IN THE 11-15 POINT RANGE – OVERCALL THE HIGHER-RANKING SUIT
HOW TO RESPOND TO MICHAEL’S CUE BID:
With a fit for one of partner’s known suits simply raise to the appropriate level.—-assume partner has a weak hand (mini-Michaels) and if partner bids again you know —it is the “maxi michaels!
What if partner has one major, (which you know) and a minor – which you don’t know?
SIMPLE_____ JUST BID 2 NO TRUMP WHICH ASKS PARTNER TO BID HER MINOR SUIT
In this instructional article on defense, our RHO will be leading to the trick (either declarer or dummy is leading to the trick). It won’t matter if it is a suit contract or notrump.
The old saying for defense is: “Second Hand Low, Third Hand High.” In general, when playing second to the trick, play low. The major exception is “cover an honor with an honor” (which also has exceptions). Don’t you just love bridge?
In this brief summary, I think it will be helpful to start with a very common suit combination:
If the 6 is played from dummy, follow LOW with the four.
But, if the JACK is led from dummy, cover with the KING.
Q or 3
If declarer leads low (3) from his hand, follow LOW with the two.
But, if the QUEEN is led from declarer, cover with the ACE.
Now let’s look at all 4 hands:
If declarer leads this suit from dummy or hand, he should lose 3 tricks. When he leads low from dummy (or hand), the next defender plays low. If declarer leads an honor from either hand, the next defender covers.
This basic premise: “2nd hand low, but cover an honor with an honor” will cover most situations.
When declarer leads low from either hand, be wary about grabbing an ace when playing second to a trick. Usually, this is a losing play. Your ace will capture “air.” Aces are meant to capture higher honors. Also, you often remove a guess; declarer leading up to king-jack (trying to decide who has the ace and who has the queen) will be delighted if you grab your ace, removing the guess. Here is a very typical ace-grab to avoid:
Declarer leads the 2. If West grabs the ace, you can see what happens. West should play low, and declarer gets only one trick.
If they are in seven, then feel free to grab your ace. Every now and then, you will duck an ace and “go to bed with it.” That’s okay. If you never go to bed with an ace, you are grabbing them too quickly. I’d say that 90% of the time, it is wrong to take an ace when playing second to a trick.
As far as covering an honor with an honor, there are exceptions. Even experts don’t always get it right. Here are two common exceptions, worth learning:
When you see the jack from declarer, don’t cover. What good could it do? If covering won’t promote anything in partner’s hand, don’t cover.
If dummy had AK9, then covering is okay (hoping to promote partner’s 10).
The other main exception is: Don’t cover the first honor. Cover the second honor. For example:
When dummy’s queen is led, East should NOT cover. If he does, declarer will win the ace and finesse against West’s 10.
After the queen wins the trick and the jack is led next, East should cover.
Second-hand play is tough, but following the basic rules above should be good enough 90+% of the time.
If you are learning from these posts and want them to continue it would be great to know. Hope you enjoyed it!