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Bridge 12/14

Do not defend in a vacuum

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Posted: December 13, 2006 4:46 p.m.
Updated: December 28, 2006 5:00 a.m.
    TV critic Harriet van Horne wrote, “There are days when any electrical appliance in the house, including the vacuum cleaner, offers more entertainment than the TV set.”
    That might be true for humans, but not for cats and dogs.
    As we are all aware, defense is the hardest part of the game. After partner leads a suit and declarer takes the trick on the board, you (as third hand) signal your level of enthusiasm for partner’s lead. If you would like more of that suit, you play the highest spot-card you can afford. If you believe that partner would do better moving elsewhere, you play your lowest card. But do not defend in the vacuum of your own hand — also take the dummy into account.
    South is in four spades. West leads the diamond two, fourth-highest promising an honor in the suit. After declarer calls for dummy’s ace, with which card would you, sitting East, signal? Why?
    South’s two-spade rebid promises at least a six-card suit. With only five, he would show a second suit, bid no-trump, or raise clubs. (Note that three no-trump can be defeated by a diamond lead, with West at one point pushing a heart through the North hand.)
    In normal circumstances, you would play your diamond 10 to proclaim a high diamond honor. But here you should see the advantage of West’s shifting to a heart through the king on the board. You should drop your diamond three.
    Then, after West wins the second trick with his spade king, he should switch to a heart, giving your side four tricks: one spade, two hearts and one diamond.
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