Seeing through cards #14

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 North, None Vulnerable

You agreed to play standard carding with partner (for attitude: high card encourages and low card discourages; for count: high – low shows even number of cards, low – high shows odd).

Partner led the ♣3. You won dummy’s ♣K with the ♣A and declarer followed with the ♣7.

  1. Where is the missing Club (the ♣6)?
  2. How many tricks can you count for the defense?
  3. Where can the setting trick come from?
  4. How will you continue?

  1. Where is the missing Club (the ♣6)?
    Declarer has it. Partner’s lead is a singleton. With ♣63 in clubs, he would have led the ♣6 (high – low from a doubleton).

  2. How many tricks can you count for the defense?
    Three. ♣A, K and a Club ruff.

  3. Where can the setting trick come from?
    Partner might have the A, ♠A or ♠K. Maybe he has the Q and can ruff another Club.

  4. How will you continue?
    If partner has an ace, he can cash it after the Club ruff, but if he has the ♠K, you need to help him establish it.

    If you play a second Club at trick 2, partner will ruff, but now defense is stuck with 3 tricks only, as partner cannot afford to play a Spade back. The Spade lead must come from your hand to help partner develop his ♠K.

    The Club ruff can wait! It can wait because you have a sure trump trick and you can let partner ruff a Club later on. So play a Spade now.

    If declarer wins with the ♠A and tries to finesse Hearts, win with your K, and play a Club for partner to ruff. He will cash his ♠K next for the setting trick. If you play a Club at trick 2, planning to give partner another ruff – that will not happen, as declarer can ruff high the third Club.

    If declarer doesn’t have the Q – then declarer will likely play the A and another Heart, pulling your trumps to prevent another ruff.

Things to remember

1) Think of the TIMING, not just when playing a contract, but also on defense. Timing is the correct order to play your tricks.

2) Even though partner led a singleton, wanting to ruff, you don’t always have to give him his ruff right away. Count your tricks and think first where the best chance for the setting trick is. Then, plan the timing.

3) New Minor Forcing (NMF) is a way for the responder to force opener to make another bid. You can play it as game forcing, or as one round forcing – you have to discuss and agree with your partner. You use NMF in situations where you can’t use 4th suit forcing, but it is actually the same. You ask opener to describe his hand as follows:

a. Bid 3 cards in my (responder) suit – like here: the 2 bid shows 3 cards in Heart. With 4 Hearts, opener would support Hearts directly, at his second bid.
b. Bid NT with a stopper in the 4th unbid suit (denying 3-card support in responder’s suit).
c. Rebid your (opener) suit otherwise. So here, if opener didn’t have 3 cards in Heart, nor a stopper in Spade – he would bid 3♣.

4) Since partner led the ♣3, and you saw the ♣2 in dummy – You can conclude that partner’s lead is a singleton. From a doubleton he would have led HIGH – LOW.


  1. The risk of this line of play is that South has 6 hearts and West has SA. From bidding, it can assume South only has 5 hearts.

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