Source: Daily News – 27 Feb 1981

Dealer South. Neither Vul

8 6 4
A Q 10
K J 8 7 4 2
A
A Q 7 2
J 5 4
6
J 9 7 6 3
J 10 5
K 9 8 3
10 9 3
K 10 4
K 9 3
7 6 2
A Q 5
Q 8 5 2
West North East South
Pass
Pass 1 Pass 1
Pass 2 Pass 2NT
Pass 3NT End

Opening lead: 6

Bridge players should be familiar with the defensive principle which states:

“When a defender signals with an honor he denies the honor directly above.”
Alan Sontag
Alan Sontag

South had no satisfactory response over North’s opening one-diamond bid. He tried to muddy the waters with a psychic one-heart response. He was paving the way for an eventual notrump contract and wanted to avoid a heart lead.

West led a club and East signaled violently with the 10. Although it is of no consequence here. East’s play of the 10 denies holding the Jack. South, with eight sure tricks, had to take a finesse in the suit he didn’t want led, hearts, for his ninth trick. So he crossed to his hand with a diamond to his ace and led a heart to the queen and king.

East cashed the king of clubs and West played the Jack, denying the queen. When East saw the jack of clubs, he knew that continuing clubs could only help declarer scoop up a quick nine tricks. East cleverly shifted to the Jack of spades. Now the defenders were able to rattle off four spades and defeat the contract two tricks.

The key play for the defense was the Jack of clubs, denying the queen. Without that bit of help, East would have no way of knowing that a club continuation was not the best.

** Alan M. Sontag (born May 2, 1946) is an american bridge player and writer. Although he is a six-time world champion in contract bridge, winning the prestige Bermuda Bowl twice, Sontag is best known as the author of The Bridge Bum, a book “on everybody’s list of the top ten bridge books ever written.