Beginning Bridge – DEFENSE

Defense is difficult. You don’t have the advantage of seeing all of your partnership’s cards. You see only your own cards and the dummy. This makes coordinating the play between your hand and partner’s hand difficult.

Defensive topics for beginners:

1) opening leads

The opening lead is the one advantage defenders have over declarer. It provides a head start in your campaign to set up and cash tricks before declarer can do the same.

1) top of a sequence of honors
2) low from one honor, or two honors not in sequence
3) highest spot card from suits without honors (“top of nothing”)
4) high from any doubleton
5) second highest from Jack-high or Ten-high suits

2) third hand play

After Partner’s Opening lead of a Spot card The general guideline for what to play is Third Hand High. That means you make your best attempt to win the trick.

1) make your best attempt to win the trick – “Third Hand High”
2) finesse against Dummy’s honor
3) if you cannot beat Dummy’s card, play a spot card to show if you have a high card in the suit…
    low= no
    high= yes
4) play the “lowest of equals” when trying to win a trick

3) placing the honors

If Partner follows the rules (agreements) we studied in the last two sections, Opening Leads and Third Hand Play, you can figure out a lot about who holds the honors you cannot see.

4) second hand play

1.  cover an honor with an honor.

2.  play “second hand low”.

5) declarer’s plan

Whatever declarer’s plan, your goal is to arrange for it to fail.

What kinds of plans can declarer make to reduce the losers in his hand? In the game of bridge, there are only three basic plans.

Declarer can…

1) trump his losers with dummy’s trumps
2) discard losers in his hand on extra winners in dummy
3) lead toward losing honors and finesse

Each plan has a defensive counter-measure, though not guaranteed to succeed.

For plan 1 (trump losers with dummy’s trumps), lead trumps as many times as you can to cut down on dummy’s ruffing power.

For plan 2 (discard losers on extra winners in dummy), cash your winners (declarer’s losers) in side suits before declarer can discard them.

For plan 3 (finesse), avoid leading away from unsupported honors. Wait for declarer to take his losing finesses.

6) defensive signals

Good defense requires a coordination of plays between yourself and your partner. This in turn requires timely communications about specific honors and distribution. In short, you have to send your partner signals.

Attitude Signals tell if you like or don’t like a suit.

Attitude When Following Suit

Your “attitude” toward a suit Partner has led shows whether you like it and want partner to lead it again, or you don’t like it and you’d prefer that Partner switch to a different suit.

7) discarding