In bridge, information from trick 1 sets up excellent defensive deduction
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If you remain alert, you will discover that opponents, often unwittingly, tell you things. If you can use that information, it will transform your results.
West led 6♥; East’s Q♥ was won by declarer’s A♥. South attacked diamonds. East won A♦ and switched to 3♣. South played low; West won with J♣, cashed A♣, and led his last club, which East won with K♣, before setting the contract with his thirteenth club.
At the other table, South also took the first trick and attacked diamonds but, this time, East returned 7♥. Declarer could win and score ten tricks. What happened at each table?
An expert pair could signal whether or not they wanted hearts continued. However, if declarer gives away information, that guess can be made much easier for the defence. Winning trick 1 with A♥ reveals that South also holds K♥. If he had held, say ♥A85, he would hold up on the first (and possibly second) round. Assuming that declarer holds a second stopper makes it easier to find the killer club switch.
At the second table, declarer took trick 1 with K♥ — which he must do holding something like ♥K85. Now, when East won A♦, he returned 7♥ thinking that partner could well have led from ♥AJ963 and that this was the only way to beat the contract.
Read Paul’s previous Bridge columns at ft.com/bridge-card-game