Seeing through cards #26


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, North – South 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).

You led the ♣4. Partner followed with the ♣J, declarer won with the ♣Q and played a low Diamond. You played low and dummy’s 10 won the trick (partner followed with the 2). Declarer played another Diamond to his J and you won with the A.

  1. Where is the K?
  2. Where is the Q?
  3. Where is the ♣K?
  4. Where is the A?
  5. Where is the K?
  6. What is the meaning of the 2 by partner?
  7. How do you plan to continue?


  1. Where is the K?
    With declarer, else partner would have won it over the 10

  2. Where is the Q?
    With declarer, else partner would have won it over the 10

  3. Where is the ♣K?
    With declarer, else partner would have played it at trick 1 and returned a Club.

  4. Where is the A?
    With Partner. Declarer’s 1NT rebid shows 12-14 points and a balanced hand. You saw declarer with KQJ and with ♣KQ. If he also had A, he would have opened the bidding with 1NT, having 15 points and a balanced hand.

  5. Where is the K?
    With Declarer. When declarer raised to 3NT he showed a maximum hand for accepting the invitation. He might have opened the bidding with 11 points and 5 cards in Diamond, but then he would have passed 2NT.

  6. What is the meaning of the 2 by partner?
    Likely count. Partner is showing an odd number of cards (3 cards) in Diamonds. You can also agree to play Smith Echo, but as the Club situation is very clear from trick 1 (Partner doesn’t have the ♣K, else he plays it, and he also doesn’t have the ♣10, else he play it –- You have it, but he doesn’t know it), count is given in these situations.

  7. How do you plan to continue?
    Play the 9! To set, you partner needs to gain the lead and play a Club to your hand. If you play the 2, partner might think that you want him to return Heart, and if he does so -– Declarer will make the rest of the tricks. Use attitude leads! A low card is encouraging partner to continue with this suit. A high card suggests a switch. Partner wins the A, returns with a Club and the contract goes 2 down.

Things to remember


1) When declarer plays his long suit, count is normally given, to help the hand with the Ace know when to win it. Defense wants to win that trick on the last card of the short hand of declarer. So, playing standard carding, low and then high will show an odd number of cards. High and then low will show even.

2) You can agree to play Smith Echo. That signal in normally given at trick 2, when defenders want to signal to each other about the lead (if count is more important –- you give count). Like here, let’s say declarer would choose to win with the ♣K at trick 1. So… after winning with the A –- How will you know what to do? The ♣Q could also be with partner, who could have played the ♣J from ♣QJx. So, partner can help you. At trick 2 he should follow with a LOW Diamond if he doesn’t want you to continue with Club (meaning that he has ♣Jxx), or with a high Diamond if he does have the ♣Q. That carding is called Smith Echo.

3) Play attitude leads, when we break a new suit! Leading a low card in the suit is encouraging partner to continue with this suit. A high card suggests a switch –- Also during play. Like here, a high heart (the 9) discouraged partner from continuing with Hearts, suggesting that you want him to play another suit (obviously Club, the suit you led).

Take a look at the following hand:


Same bidding, same ♣3 lead, same ♣J from partner and ♣Q from declarer. Same trick 2 and trick 3, ending in your hand with the A.

This time you realize that declarer has the ♣A (else partner takes it at trick 1 and returns a Club), and if he gets the hand -– he makes the rest of the tricks. But partner doesn’t know this (partner can’t know where the ♣K is and where the ♣A is). So, this time the Heart suit is your savior: Play the 2, encouraging this suit, and partner will get the A and return a Heart to set.