Certain guidelines have been established to assist the defenders in maintaining a line of communication open during the play. These guidelines have proved effective and generally represent the better approach than one defender acting individually.

General Guidelines

A few guidelines are listed below, but they are definitely not all of them. Each situation requires different judgment and an entirely different assessment. The better bridge player will assess the situation correctly and play accordingly, and after obtaining additional information during the play, may actually change strategy. This feature requires study and practice over the years, remembering a similar situation, and remembering how to solve it.

Several guidelines include:
Creating a situation, whereby the declarer must guess which card to play from his hand or from the dummy.
Forcing the declarer to play a high card or honor in order to keep your partner from winning the trick with a lower card.
Saving your high cards or honors in order to trap or capture the high cards or honors of the declarer.
Avoiding a situation whereby you and your partner both must play a high card or honor on the same trick.

To illustrate a situation of defense, the following example should represent two defense strategies based on the information exchanged during the play by the defenders, and defense based on the principle of Defending On An Assumption, which means that a player should, based on the information exchanged, assume a certain holding either in the hand of his partner or in the hand of the declarer.

Dealer: North
Vulnerable: Both
Contract: 4 Spades
Declarer: South



Table One and Table Two both reach the same contract of 4 Spades, played by South as declarer, and the lead at both tables was the 7 of Clubs. At both tables, both East and West gained the information from the auction, at which they were silent, that the contract was risky. At both tables East and West were defending on an assumption.

Both Wests decided to show a high-low count in Clubs. The play continued as follows

West   North   East   South
7   10   K   2

Declarer South tried the finesse, and it did not work. At both tables, East promptly returned a Club, and at both tables, East realized that West had only 2 Clubs after showing a high-low play. Declarer won the second trick in dummy with the Queen of Clubs.

At trick Three, declarer played the 9 of Trump and let it ride. This is the point in the defense where the defense at both tables differed.

Table 1
West   North   East   South
7   10   K   2

At Table 1, West took the third trick with the Queen of Spades, strongly suggesting that he also had the Ace of Spades. The declarer, South, changed strategy. West shifted to a Heart lead at Trick Four and the declarer promptly took the Ace in dummy, realizing that he could not afford any Heart loser. East played the 7 of Hearts as an encouraging signal to continue with the Hearts. The declarer took the Ace of Diamonds, finessed successfully with the Jack of Diamonds, and unloaded his losing Heart on the King of Diamonds. It is true that the declarer was lucky that the finesse worked and that both defenders had 3 Diamonds each, but it was his only hope to fulfill the shaky contract. The declarer lost only 2 trump tricks and a Club, fulfilling the contract, and making a plus score of 620.

Table 2
West   North   East   South
9   2   3   A

At Table 2, West took the third trick with the Ace of Spades, and the declarer had to assume that East held the Queen of Spades, an important Key Card. This assumption was the deciding factor guiding the changed strategy of the declarer. At Table Two, West also shifted to a Heart, declarer played the Ace of Hearts with confidence in his new strategy, and West also received an encouraging signal from his partner East to continue the Heart lead.

The declarer at Table Two also took the Ace of Hearts in dummy, and, thinking that East had the King of trump, finessed East with the 8 of Spades for the King. However, West produced the Queen of trump, returned a Heart, remembering the positive 7 of Hearts signal from his partner. East immediately played the King of Hearts, returned a Club, remembering that his partner had showed a high-low signal. West promptly trumped.

Result: South, the declarer, lost 2 Clubs tricks, 2 trump tricks, and 1 Heart trick. Down two for a minus score of 200.

This example should illustrate the difference in strategies formed by the defense, keeping the line of communication open, and how to allow the declarer to form false assumptions. There are many facets in defending, and it takes study, practice, and concentration. It is impossible to cover every situation of defense, because every situation is different. Remembering the basics, remembering what your partner is communicating to you, remembering which cards have been played, remembering to lead the declarer to make false assumptions, logic and common sense are your best weapons of defense.



If you wish to include this feature, or any other feature, of the game of bridge in your partnership agreement, then please make certain that the concept is understood by both partners. Be aware whether or not the feature is alertable or not and whether an announcement should or must be made. Check with the governing body and/or the bridge district and/or the bridge unit p rior to the game to establish the guidelines applied. Please include the particular feature on your convention card in order that your opponents are also aware of this feature during the bidding process, since this information must be made known to them according to the Laws of Duplicate Contract Bridge. We do not always include the procedure regarding Alerts and/or Announcements, since these regulations are changed and revised during time by the governing body. It is our intention only to present the information as concisely and as accurately as possible.