Thinking Bridge – NABC – FALL 2008 (5)  By Eddie Kantar 

Defensive signaling


Dlr: South

Vul: E-W


Q 10 8 6 3

K 10 8 3

A 3                      7 5




West        North            East                    South


1 Club      1 Spade         2 Diamond       2 Spade

2 NT         Pass                3 NT                   All Pass



Opening lead:. 6



AK 7

Q 6 2

K 9 5

Q 10 9 8



5 4

9 5

Q J 10 8 6 4





J 9 2

A J 7 2

7 2

5 4 3 2




Bidding commentary:  As South, you have a borderline raise to 2. As East, your 2 in competition shows 10 or more high-card points and is not a game-force, but your trick taking potential is enough to raise to 3NT after partner’s non-forcing 2NT bid (13-14 HCP).

Play commentary:. As West, take the first trick with the K, not the ace. North knows you have the A K from South’s play of the J, but South can’t be sure what’s going on if you win the king. South may think you have K-Q-x or K-x-x. If you win the A, South may smell a rat. If your only stopper is the ace, why no hold up play?

Bottom line: With an A-K stopper at notrump, take the first trick with the king; at a suit contract try the ace.

Defensive commentary:. Defensive commentary: As North, after winning the A, you can count declarer for at least nine tricks outside of hearts: five diamonds, two spades and two clubs, minimum. To entertain any hope of defeating the contract, shift to a low heart (the 3), looking for four heart tricks.

Defensive commentary: #2: As South, when partner shifts to a low heart, showing strength, win the A, return the 2, Your side will rattle off four heart tricks. Down one. If partner had wanted a spade return, partner would have shifted to a high heart, showing weakness in the suit