A simple defensive problem foxed club bridge players, and proved again how you must watch little cards carefully — especially when you know their relative size will be significant.

Dealer: North
E/W Game


West led A♥ and K♥, East dutifully signalling his doubleton, and then West led 8♥. When you have signalled for a third round of the suit, particularly for a ruff, the size of the card that partner leads indicates which of the remaining two suits he wants returned. Trumps are always excluded.

Here, West led 8♥, East ruffed, and those who were not paying attention thought that the eight was a high card asking for a diamond. Ace and another diamond gives declarer time to draw two rounds of trumps, unblock the diamonds, and then use Q♠ as an entry to dummy, before utilising dummy’s fourth diamond on which he throws his 10♣ loser.

When partner leads an ace, and you have a doubleton, you immediately want to study the low cards played by dummy and declarer. Here, East should see the 3♥ and 7♥ appear from declarer’s hand and ♥654 in dummy, making West’s 8♥ his lowest. The card may not be low on its own but, in context, it is. East now knows to switch to 9♣, setting up a club trick for his partner, either now or subsequently, when East takes his A♦.

Read Paul’s previous Bridge columns at ft.com/bridge-card-game

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