Partnership Defense
“I couldn’t have done it without Felix Milan.” — Joe Torre, St. Louis Cardinals catcher, on hitting into a record four double plays in one game after Milan reached first base.

Dlr: East ♠ 10 9 7 6 3
Vul: All J 9 4
4 2
♣ K 5 3
♠ A Q J 4 ♠ K 8
8 6 Q 3
A 10 8 5 9 6 3
♣ A Q 10 ♣ J 9 7 6 4 2
♠ 5 2
A K 10 7 5 2
K Q J 7
♣ 8
East South West North
Pass 1 Dbl 2
Pass 4(!) All Pass

Opening lead — 6
The defenders can’t see declarer’s hand, and accurate defense is hard if they don’t help each other. In today’s deal, South’s leap to 4 bought the contract. West led a trump: 4, queen, ace. South then led his singleton club.
West rose with the ace and would have had a problem without East’s help: A club continuation, another trump lead or a shift to diamonds or spades was possible.


But West had a partner at the table. On the first club, East played the jack as a suit-preference signal — a strikingly high club to suggest strength in spades, the high-ranking side suit. So West led the ♠A and a low spade. East won and led a diamond, and West’s ace won the setting trick.
If West doesn’t find the spade shift, South will pitch a spade on dummy’s ♣K and steal a game.

Daily Question

You hold: ♠A Q J 4   8 6   A 10 8 5    ♣A Q 10.
Your partner opens 1, you respond 1♠ and he bids 2♣. What do you say?

ANSWER: Partner’s hand is not well defined. He could hold a minimum hand with five hearts and five clubs or an 18-point hand. You need more information, hence bid 2, forcing. If partner next bids 2NT, you will have a close decision but might raise to 4NT, inviting 6NT if partner has any extra strength.