Seeing through cards #23


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 East, None Vulnerable


Against 5♠ West led the 3.

  1. What can you infer from the lead?
  2. You won the Diamond trick and played the ♠A. Both opponents followed with low Spade. How does the Club suit split?
  3. How does the Diamond suit split?
  4. How does the Heart suit split?
  5. How does the Spade suit split?
  6. What is the danger here?
  7. How will you continue?

  1. What can you infer from the lead?
    The lead is clearly a singleton. There is no other reason to lead a Diamond when you have such solid Diamonds and both opponents bid Clubs.

  2. You won the Diamond trick and played the ♠A. Both opponents followed with low Spade. How does the Club suit split?
    We can place 7 clubs with East from the bidding, therefore 4 in West.

  3. How does the Diamond suit split?
    One with West from the lead, therefore 3 in East.

  4. How does the Heart suit split?
    West didn’t open 2 as dealer so he likely does not have 6 cards in Hearts. If that is the case, then East has 2 cards in Heart, as he already followed on the first round of Spades. So West has 5 Hearts.

  5. How does the Spade suit split?
    One with East and 3 in West, as we can deduct from counting the rest of the suits.

  6. What is the danger here?
    When West wins with the ♠K, he can play a Club to East’s hand and get a Diamond ruff to set.

  7. How will you continue?
    Play AK and then a third Heart from dummy, discarding your Club from hand. West will get that trick (as East has no more Hearts), but you just cut communication between your opponents and East will never get the hand to allow West to ruff a Diamond. Win any return and pull trumps. You will lose only 1 Heart and 1 Spade.

Things to remember


1) Bridge is ALL about counting. You can count tricks, losers, points and distribution. This is a wonderful example hand to help you practice counting distribution. The Biding (Club), the Lead (Diamond) but also the unbid suit (Heart) help you count the distribution. When counting 3 suits, you can infer how the 4th suit splits as well (Spade).

2) If West would have opened the bidding with 2 and the auction went more or less the same, ending in 5♠ and getting a Diamond lead – Your best play would be to play ♠A and another Spade to avoid getting ruffed by opponents.

If, instead, you play Heart to the K, try the Spade finesse and the finesse fails – You will go 2 down, getting a Diamond and a Heart ruff from your opponents (so you lose a Club, the ♠K and 2 ruffs).

3) This technique of throwing a loser on another loser to cut the communication between opponents is called “The scissor’s coup”.

4) North’s bid is not 100%. If 5♣ goes 3 down, it would be better to double. Double could also be better because it is not at all clear that 5♠ can be made. As the saying goes: “5th level bids (normally) belong to the opponents”. However, North’s hand also has a lot of offensive value, and he didn’t have the chance yet to show his Spade fit. That is why West’s 5♣ bid was good: It puts pressure on N-S, and 5♣ is a good sacrifice, going just 2 down.