Good technique was rewarded on this deal, where the field reached 3NT on a heart lead. (hand rotated for convenience)


                         S  K6

Dlr: East                H  A63

Vul: None                D  K84

                         C  QJ974


          S  3                         S  A9752

          H  QT942                     H  J7

          D  J65                       D  Q73

          C  A652                      C  T83


                         S  QJT84

                         H  K85

                         D  AT92

                         C  K


          WEST       NORTH       EAST       SOUTH

           -          -          Pass       1S

          Pass       2C          Pass       2D

          Pass       2H          Pass      2NT

          Pass       3NT         All Pass


The auction put West on lead with an easy H10. With the heart suit lying as it does, it is necessary to consider your first move carefully. If the heart suit splits 4-3, it is irrelevant whether you win the first or second round of the suit. But as the cards lie, look at what happens if you take the first heart and drive out the SA (if you lead the CK West will  duck). When East takes the SA and returned the HJ, West overtakes and can clear the suit while retaining the CA as an entry.


If you duck the first heart and win the second in hand, East will have no hearts left when you drive out his ace.

That makes the difference be between an undertrick and an overtrick.




                                                  MAKE HASTE SLOWLY



Mark Aquino was faced with what seemed like a straightforward defensive problem.


Bd: 2                    S  A82

Dlr: East                H  J7653

Vul: N-S                 D  94

                         C  Q62


                                       S  JT97

                                       H  A42

                                       D  AJT

                                       C  K98


          WEST       NORTH       EAST       SOUTH

           -          -          1C         1H

          5D         5H          6D         6H

          Pass       Pass        Dbl        All Pass


Mark sat East, and after a spirited auction doubled 6H for what doubtless were convincing reasons at the time. Coon led the C4 to the 2, 8 and jack. Back came the HK on which Coon threw the D8. What is your plan on defense?


Well, perhaps Coon has eight diamonds, so there is no particular future there. Since declarer has only five hearts, he presumably has either a 3-5-0-5 or a 4-5-0-4 distribution. If it's the former, we cannot prevent 12 tricks whatever we do, so let's assume that declarer's hand is 4-5-0-4. Therefore he must be for it to matter what we


          S  KQxx,  H  KQT98,  D  -,  C AJxx


The first thing to do is to note that dummy's trumps are notably poor -- there are hardly any entries to dummy. If declarer can ruff two diamonds in hand he has the makings of a dummy reversal and a squeeze on us in the black suits.


If we duck the first two trumps, declarer can play off all the diamonds and spades and endplay us with the HA, so we must win the first or second trump and exit with a major-suit card. If we exit with a diamond, declarer has the entries to ruff out diamonds and run the trumps to squeeze us. If we exit passively, the entries to dummy are just not good enough.


Declarer can ruff out the diamonds, but he can't finish with the lead in dummy necessary for the squeeze. The full hand:


                         S  A82

Dlr: East                H  J7653

Vul: N-S                 D  94

                         C  Q62


          S  64                        S  JT97

          H  -                         H  A42

          D  KQ876532                  D  AJT

          C  T74                       C  K 98


                         S  KQ53

                         H  KQT98

                         D  -

                         C  AJ53