Seeing through cards #36

Seeing through cards with Oren Lidor

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

I’ll give you a hand along with a series of questions. First, try to answer them yourself, and then take a look at the answers. 

At the end I’ll summarize the important things to remember. I hope you enjoy the challenge!

Here we have just the North and West hands, along with bidding. Answer the questions below and click the solution button when you’re ready to see how you’ve done.

Dealer North, All 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 3. Dummy played the 9, partner followed with the 5 and declarer with the 4. Declarer tried a Diamond finesse at trick 2, and you took it with the K.

  1. How many points does your partner have?
  2. What is the meaning of your partner’s 5?
  3. What else can you know about the Heart suit?
  4. What do you hope your partner has in order to set? 
  5. How will you play?

  1. How many points does your partner have?
    They’ve between 2-4 points: the Declarer has 13-15 for his 3NT jump, dummy has 14 and you have 10. So your partner is left with 2-4 points.

  2. What is the meaning of your partner’s 5?
    Count. It is rare that count is given on 3rd seat (unless you lead King, asking for count). But in situations that your partner cannot cover a relatively low card from dummy – then they will signal count (it can’t be attitude as clearly your partner has no high card in this suit, else your partner covers the 9). So, your partner’s 5 is his lowest card, which means they have xx5 (they can’t have a singleton, else South would have had 4 Hearts and they would bid 1).

  3. What else can you know about the Heart suit?
    Your partner has the 865 and the declarer has Q4. If your partner had the Q – they would’ve played it at trick 1 (3rd hand plays high).

  4. What do you hope your partner has in order to set?
    The ♣K, or else the declarer will have 9 tricks (even if your partner had the ♠A it would still not be enough to set as the declarer would have 4 Clubs, 3 Diamonds and 2 Hearts).

  5. How will you play?
    Continue with the 2 at trick 3! That move will keep communication with your partner (as you have no more entries to your hand) and also will let them know your original length was 5 cards (the 3 was 4th best and therefore the 2 is the 5th). The declarer will win it with the Q but when they try the Club finesse, your partner will get the ♣K and play their 3rd Heart, and you will take 3 more Hearts to set.

Things to remember


  • Third seat:
    a) Plays high if first and second seat played low
    b) Low from a touching sequence (if you’ve QJ2 and first and second seats played low – play the J)
    c) Gives attitude (want/don’t want) if first seat led the Ace or if dummy played a top card on second seat.
    d) Gives count if first seat led the King (needs agreement) OR if third seat cannot cover a relatively low card from dummy (as with this hand).
    e) Gives suit preference if the suit is “DEAD” (so clearly no more tricks for us in this suit as dummy has all the high cards or if dummy has singleton or void in a trump contract).
  • The 3NT bid shows (12)13-15 points and denies four cards in the majors.
  • Duck on defense, is what sometimes needs to be done to keep communication. Use Duck when your sole entry is with the long suit that you want to develop and you have no side entries. Normally it’s when you play this suit from hand and chose to play low as third hand instead of you ace. Here it was a little different, as you led low from hand, but it has the same effect.
  • When leading fourth best, you can also inform your partner about extra length by playing the 5th card later. As is the case here, leading the 2 indicated that your original length was 5 cards.
  • If your partner could have more points or if they played a high Heart at trick 1, then the best chance to set could be a Spade switch, hoping partner might hold ♠AJxxx.