Third Hand Play on Defense by Eddie Kantar

Print Friendly

General Principles for Defense

Norman Kay Alfred Sheinwold and Eddie Kantar
Print Friendly

Source: www.northerncoloradobridge.com prepared by John Blankinship based on Eddie Kantar Teaches Modern Bridge Defense

General Principles for Defense

  • Take an active interest in cards played by partner (especially) and declarer.
  • Don’t turn over your card to a trick until you have noted and interpreted partner’s card.
  • Try to figure out what declarer is doing, and devise a defensive plan to counter it.
  • Be thinking all the time.

Assumptions

  • standard leads, including fourth best leads against notrump and suit contracts
  • attitude signals for suit initiated by partner (typically standard or upside down carding)
  • count signals for suit initiated by declarer or dummy (typically standard or upside down)

 Partner leads low against a notrump or suit contract, dummy has small cards

  • Defending against a notrump or suit contract
  • Dummy has small cards
  • Your high cards are not equals

 

  8 6 3

 

 leads 2

 

  K 9 4

 

 ???

This play is automatic: play the king.  If it wins, return the nine, the higher of your two remaining cards.  This is a classic case of Third Hand High.

Partner leads low against a suit contract (discovery play)

  • Defending against a suit contract
  • Dummy has small cards

 

 8 6 3

 

 leads 2

 

 K J 4

 

 ???

 

 Against a notrump contract, this play is automatic: play the king.  However, against a suit contract, there is an opportunity for East to make a discovery play.  Partner would not underlead an ace against a suit contract, so declarer presumably has the ace.   Play the jack to “discover” who has the queen.

Partner leads low, dummy has small cards, third hand has equal honors

 Defending against a notrump or suit contract

  • Dummy plays low
  • You have two or more equal high cards 
 

 9 6 3

 

 leads 2

 

 Q J 5

 

 ???

 

 Play the jack, the lowest of two or more equal cards.  This is sacred!

When partner sees your jack, she realizes you may have the queen but cannot have the ten.

When third hand plays high, it can never have the card directly under the one played.

Using these principles, you can often deduce who has missing cards in the suit – Example #1          

 

 

 8 5 4 3

 

(You)

  K 9 7 6 2

 

 plays J

 

 plays A

 

 

 Say hearts are trump and you decide to lead the 6.  Dummy plays low, partner the J, and declarer the A.  

What can you deduce about the missing spades ( Q 10)?

Answer:  Partner started with the QJ, and declarer the  A10.

Using these principles, you can often deduce who has missing cards in the suit – Example #2 

 

 10 6 5

 

(You)  Q 7 4 3 2

 

 plays 8

 

 plays K

 

  Against a notrump contract, you lead the 3.  Dummy plays low, partner comes up with the 8, and declarer wins the trick with the K.  Who has the missing spades ( A, J, 9)?

Answer:  Partner started with  J98, and declarer AK.

Using these principles, you can often deduce who has missing cards in the suit – Example #3 

 

 10 6 5

 

(You)  Q 7 4 3 2

 

 plays 9

 

 plays J

 

 Against a heart contract, you lead the 3.  Dummy plays low, partner plays the 9, and declarer the J.  Who has the missing spades (A, K, 8)?

Answer:  Partner started with the stiff 9, and declarer the  AKJ8.  Partner can ruff the second round of spades.

Using these principles, you can often deduce who has missing cards in the suit – Example #4

 

  4 3 2

 

(You)  K 9 7 6

 

 plays J

 

 plays Q

 

 The opponents land in a notrump contract after checking for majors with Stayman.  You lead the 6, partner plays the J, and declarer wins the Q.  Who has the missing spades ( A, 10, 8, 5)?

Answer:  Partner started with the  J85, and declarer the  AQ10.  You should wait for partner to lead a spade through declarer’s A10.

Partner leads low, dummy has honor but plays low, third hand has a higher honor

  • Defending against a notrump or suit contract
  • Dummy has an honor but plays low
  • Third hand has a higher honor than dummy

 

 Q 7 3

 

leads 2

 

 K 10 4

 

 ???

 

 Rule of Thumb:  If you can insert a nine-spot or higher, it usually saves a trick if you conserve your honor to capture dummy’s honor.  Hence, in this case, you should play the 10.  But if you had  K84, you would play the king.

 However if your honor is the ace, you need to insert at least a ten-spot to make it worthwhile.  Hence, if you had the A104, you would play the 10 – but with A94, play the ace.

Partner leads low, dummy has honor but plays low, third hand does not have higher honor

  • Dummy has an honor but plays low
  • Third hand does not have a higher honor than dummy

 

 K 8 3

 

leads 2

 

  Q 10 7 5

 

 ???

 

 The proper play is the Q.  In this case, third hand plays as if there were no honor in dummy at all – i.e. third hand high.  Similarly, if your spades were  QJ7 and dummy played low, you would play the J, your lower equal.

Partner leads low, third hand has doubleton AK or KQ

 

 Q 7 4

 

 leads 3

 

 A K

 

 ???

 

 Play A, and then (if you decide to continue spades) the K.  Playing equal honor cards out of order (higher-lower) indicates a doubleton.

Applying the Rule of Eleven

Assuming fourth-best leads:  11 – (size of card led) =  number of cards in the suit led in the three remaining hands which are higher than the card led.  This rule can be used by Third Hand to deduce the number of higher cards in declarer’s hand, and also by declarer to deduce the number of higher cards in Third Hand.

  9 7 6
K 6 4
J 7 6 5
K 10 5
 

A Q 8 5 4
10 5 3
9 3
Q J 2

  J 10 3
A J 7 2
8 4
9 8 6 4
  K 2
Q 9 8
A K Q 10 2
A 7 3
 

 Against a 3NT contract by SouthWest leads the 5.  East plays the 10, which loses to the K.  Assuming fourth-best leads, East can deduce that declarer started with only 11 – 5 – 3 – 2 = 1 spade higher than the 5, which evidently is the K.  Hence, all of West‘s remaining spades must be winners!

After winning the K, declarer crosses to the K in dummy and leads a low heart in a sneaky attempt to steal a ninth trick in hearts.  The normal play for East is a low heart, retaining the AJ over dummy’s king.  But, applying the Rule of Eleven, East rises with the A and returns a spade to defeat the contract.

Unblocking

General Rule:  When partner leads an honor card against a notrump contract, and you (third  hand) have a doubleton honor, unblock your honor and play it.

 

 A

 

  J 10 9 7 4 3 2

 

  Q 6

 

  K 8 5

 

 Partner has preempted in spades, and leads the J against a notrump contract.  If you don’t unblock, declarer can hold up the second time spades are led, and your side won’t be able to lead a third round of the suit.

Corollary:  If partner leads low and dummy wins the trick and third hand has a lower doubleton honor, it is almost always right to unblock and play the honor.

  K Q J 7 2
Q 6
J 10 5
A 6 5
 

8 5 4
A 10 7 5 4 2
6 4 3
2

  A 9 6
J 3
K Q 7
10 9 8 4 3
  10 3
K 9 8
A 9 8 2
K Q J 7
 

Against a 3NT contract, West leads the 5 and dummy wins the Q.  You (East) should unblock and unload the J.  When declarer knocks out the A, you win and return a low heart, allowing partner to rattle off five heart tricks for down two.  If you play a low heart at trick one, declarer can duck your later return of the J and you get one heart trick instead of five.

Overtaking (first cousin of blocking)

General Rule:  When partner leads an honor card against a notrump contract, dummy plays low, and you (third  hand) have a higher doubleton honor, overtake and play your higher honor.  However, there are some exceptions when defending against suit contracts.

 

 7 4 3

 

 Q J 10 9 5

 

 K 2

 

 A 8 6

 

 Against a notrump contract, West leads the queen, showing at least a 3-card perfect or near-perfect sequence.  You (East) should overtake and play the king.  If you play low, declarer can duck the queen and also the second round of spades, thereby blocking the suit.  If you play the king and then the deuce, partner wins the second round of spades and can drive out the ace.

 Note that against a suit contract for the above hand, overtaking with the king could give up a trick (e.g. to declarer’s ten) and is not recommended.  This is because the lead of the queen against a suit contract only shows at least a 2-card sequence. 

 

6 4 3

 

K Q 10 8 2

 

A 7

 

J 9 5

 

 Against either a suit or notrump contract, West leads the king and you (East) have the doubleton ace.  Overtake with the ace, and lead back the seven.  At notrump, partner has probably led from KQJ or KQ10, so unblocking is correct.  At a suit contract, overtake even though partner may only have led from KQ.  If you set up a trick for declarer’s jack, you can still ruff a third round of spades.

When not to overtake

When it is clear that overtaking will cost you a trick, don’t overtake.

 

10 6 4

 

 Q J 9 8 2

 

 K 3

 

 A 7 5

 

 Against a notrump contract, West leads the Q.  In this situation, you cannot afford to overtake the queen because of the ten in dummy.

 Watch and try to interpret partner’s spot cards on opening leads

 Third hand should take a good look at the card partner leads.  For example, the lead of a five can be a singleton, top of a doubleton, low from three, fourth best, etc. The main clues lie in the bidding and whether the opponents are in a suit or notrump contract.

  J 7 3 2
A 8 6 3
5 2
8 7 5
 

10 6
7 4 2
K 9 8 3
Q 9 3 2

  9 8 5 4
Q J 9
A 6
K 10 6 4
  A K Q
K 10 5
Q J 10 7 4
A J
 

Against a 3NT contract, West leads the 3 and you (East) win the ace.  Seeing the 2 in dummy, you know partner has led her lowest diamond from a four-card suit.  If partner has four diamonds, declarer has five.  It rarely pays to attack (and probably help set up) declarer’s five-card suit.  A better shot is to switch to a low club at trick two.  The defense builds up three club tricks plus two diamonds to defeat the contract.

Returning partner’s suit

If you win the opening lead and wish to return partner’s suit, or you don’t win the opening lead but wish to return partner’s suit later in the hand – which card should you return?

The idea in most cases is to give partner count with your second card, while unblocking the suit if necessary.  The general guidelines are as follows:

  • With two cards remaining, return the higher.
  • With three cards remaining, return the lowest.
  • With four or more cards remaining, return your original fourth highest.
  • With an honor sequence remaining, return the highest card in the sequence.

 

 7 6

 

 leads 2

 

a)   A 10 5

b)   A 10 5 3

c)   A 10 5 4 3

d)   A J 10 8

 

 ???

 

 Partner leads the 2 against a notrump or suit contract.  In each case, you play the ace, third hand high.  If you wish to return the suit: (a) return the 10, (b) the 3, (c) the 4, (d) the J.

 

 7 6

 

 K J 9 2

 

 A 8 3

 

 Q 10 5 4

 

 West leads the 2 against a notrump contract, you (East) play the ace and return the 8 to the  10 and partner’s J.  Partner knows that you started with three spades and declarer with four spades, because with four you would have returned low.  Consequently, partner does not cash the K and instead waits for you to lead a spade through declarer’s Q.

 

 7 6

 

 K J 9 2

 

 A 8 4 3

 

 Q 10 5

 

 West leads the 2 against a notrump contract, you (East) play the ace and return the 3, showing that you started with four spades and declarer three spades.  When declarer inserts the 10, partner wins the jack and confidently plunks down the K, knowing that the Q will drop.

Esta entrada también está disponible en: Spanish

Comments are closed.