Defensive Play

Getting the most of a non-contract hand.

Partnership Coordination:

Always adhere to the standard leads!  These are promises to your partner of the cards you hold, just like opening a 5 card major.   It is necessary for defense’s communication.

  • Replay partner’s lead!
    • In a NT contract your partner identified their long suit.  Consider dummy’s cards, you may want to consider another suit that your partner could win, if …
      • returning the lead suit is a sure loser
      • you want to run dummy’s honor into your higher honor
  • Play second hand lowthis allows partner’s card to be played last, which forces your opponent to play high.  The reciprocal play is to force opponent to play second hand high.
  • Force dummy to play high if possible, split your honors.
  • Aces were meant to take Kings and Queens, duck with caution.
  • Don’t play blindly, be aware of the situation.  The goal is to defeat the contract.
  • Win the trick with your cheapest card.  Especially with touching cards, this is a signal to your partner that you don’t hold the card below it.
  • Play third hand high (or highish) to WIN the trick.
    • RULE of 11 – Strategy when 4th best is lead.
    • Try to reserve your last winning honor to cover dummy’s last honor.  Play your second highest if greater than nine.
    • Partner will not under lead an ace.
  • When you’re running a suit, and you are reduced to a doubleton, always play the top of a doubleton.  Irregardless of how many tricks in that suit have already been played.  
    • This fits with – play high from the short side.  You don’t want the lead to be stranded in the wrong hand.
  • When your opponent’s bid ‘weak’ – know that they probably have no HCP in other suits.
  • Watch declarer for void suit
    • Note suit declarer is short on during bidding for your leads to partner.
    • Discard losers to that suit in dummy (will be trumped in any case).
    • Save other suits for winners at end of play.
  • Get in the habit of counting high card points at the start of a hand.  Be prepared before dummy’s is laid down.  
    • 40 points – your hand – dummy = X points between your partner and declarer.  Subtract declarer’s bidding should equal your partner’s points.
  • Can number of cards, and in who’s hand, of a suit be guessed as well?
  • Defenders should count on declarer playing correctly, such as the not selecting a pseudo-finesse (playing for a finesse that does not promote a lower card).

Also see: