Seeing through cards #2

Oren Lidor Oren Lidor

Knowing how to ask yourselves the right questions and then answer them is the key to improve your chances on any bridge hand, be it as declarer or as defender.

I’ll give you a hand below, and a series of questions – like a riddle! Try to answer these questions by yourself. Then look at the answers, which will be presented together with the full deal.

At the end we’ll summarize a few important “Things to remember” for each problem. Enjoy!

Dealer South, E-W Vulnerable


West lead the ♠K.

You and your partner are playing standard carding. To show attitude, a high card encourages the suit, and a low card discourages. To show count, playing a high card followed by a low one shows an even number of cards in that suit, while low-high shows odd number of cards.

  1. How many sure tricks does the defense have?
  2. When you win a trick, will you play back through dummy’s weakness, leading a Club in attempt to promote a Club trick for partner? If yes, which card will you play? If not – why not?
  3. Where do you expect the setting trick to come from?
  4. Which Spade will you play at trick 1 and how do you help your partner know what your plan is?


  1. How many sure tricks does the defense have?

    Three: 2 Spades and 1 Heart.

  2. When you win a trick, will you play back through dummy’s weakness, leading a Club in attempt to promote a Club trick for partner? If yes, which card will you play? If not – why not?

    Do not play clubs. Count the points! Declarer has 15, dummy 10 and you 10 — that’s 35 points. Which leaves at most 5 points with partner. Partner lead the ♠K which promises the ♠Q too. That’s 5 points, which is all he has. He has nothing in Clubs, so no point in attacking this suit.

  3. Where do you expect the setting trick to come from?

    A Diamond ruff.

  4. Which Spade will you play at trick 1 and how do you help your partner know what your plan is?

    At trick 1, play the ♠A. That’s right! Overtake partner’s ♠K and then play your singleton Diamond. This should make your defense plan clear enough. Declarer will win this trick and play Hearts. Upon winning the A, play a Spade back to partner’s ♠Q (you know he has it from the lead) and he will return a Diamond for you to ruff. 1 down

Things to remember

  1. Important tips for defense: COUNT!

    a. Count tricks: Here, you could count 3 sure tricks: 2 Spades and 1 Heart.

    b. Count partner’s points. That is very important to do, in order to understand what you can expect from partner. Here, you counted that he has max 5 points, and you knew from the lead where they were.

    c. Count partner’s distribution. Sometimes the bidding helps you figure out the distribution of declarer, and you can logically deduct what partner’s distribution is too.

    d. Does the Lead mean anything? Here, the ♠K lead showed the ♠Q as well, which helped you see where is the entry to partner’s hand, and also that he cannot have points in other suits.

    e. Think of the timing (plan the order of the tricks) for the defense: Here the setting trick was a Diamond ruff, which means that you needed to play your singleton Diamond, and then find an entry to partner’s hand to ruff the second Diamond. If the defense plays 2 rounds of spades this burns the entry to partner’s hand.

    f. Think of how to help partner see your plan: Overtake your partner’s winner at trick 1 and play back a Diamond. When partner sees dummy he will realize you must have a singleton, else there is no justification for such a move.

  2. Normally, when dummy is to your left (2nd hand) – Play through dummy’s strength. When dummy is to your right (4th hand) – Play through dummy’s weakest suit.

    The idea is that our strength should be OVER opponent’s strong suit:

    a. When dummy is to your left, play through Dummy’s strength:


    You are West. Lead a Diamond, through Dummy’s strength.

    Cards could be laying like this:

    Playing diamonds will help your partner cash his honors. He cannot play diamonds from his side. If you play a Club, you will help declarer clear the suit, as his strength is over your partner’s. You are basically finessing the suit for declarer.

    Note that if declarer has the K – he has 3 Diamond tricks anyway, and playing Diamond will be harmless.

    b. When dummy is to your right, play through Dummy’s weakness:


    Play Club now, through Dummy’s weak suit, as partner’s strength is over declarer’s:

    Cards could be laying like this:


    Playing clubs will put your partner over declarer. If you play Diamond, you will help declarer as his strength is over your partner’s strength.