Are you happy with one undertrick as defender?

You play this hand as east in a pairs tournament. The opponents bid straight forward ol’ fashioned without telling too much other than an invitational sequence.

Your partner leads three of diamonds to you queen. When you play the ace your partner discard eight of clubs!

Then it is time for you to do some calculations. We can easily grab our AKQ of diamonds and the club ace for down 1, and maybe give partner an uppercut when the fourth diamond is played?

Can we do better or is that the best plan?


Let’s use our calculator. Declarer are known to have at least five spades, we can see his diamonds are three. When partner discard the 8 of clubs it should be count with that holding in dummy, this gives us the club suit to be 4-2. Now we have declarer’s cards to be 5-3-3-2 or 6-2-3-2.

It is an option to play low diamond to ruff, then a club back to our ace followed by the diamond king to prevent declarer from discarding on ten of diamonds. This could be right if our partner holds king of hearts and an original spade trick.

It is not very likely. We trust our partner, he would have encuraged in heart if that was the best defence. The most likely are to find partner with 3 or 4 small trump and no side values. The best chances might be a promotion after we have cashed our winners.

But what if partner doesn’t have any trump promotion, do we have a chance?

Yes, if declarers hand are 5-3-3-2 we can make an extra undertrick by playing AKQ followed by another diamonds. Partner’s club-count tells us that this is safe. Declarer have two clubs and have no need for a discard, he have to ruff high to keep you partner from a low ruff.

The whole hand looked like this

Take a look on the position to the right after we have played AKQ of diamonds.

On  the fourth diamond declarer have nothing else to do than play ten of spades, west discard his third club. Declarer has two ways of playing the cards, both leads to down 2!

  • He can pull trumps; cash his AKQ of hearts but the last two tricks goes to you ♣ A and the nine of diamonds!
  • He can play two rounds of trumps then try to make a club trick. But you put on you ace and give partner a ruff!

The key play was to keep your nerves, not be happy with down 1. If you cashed the club ace early declarer would have an easy play for down 1, but your smart defense increased your score from 60 % till 90 %.

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