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When does The Defence begin?

Be honest now, how do you regard defending? Choose (A), (B) or (C).
(A) A necessary part of the game, but the dullest one. You defend quickly and without thought, trying to hurry on to the next hand in the hope of declaring.
(B) A challenge, but one that is too tough to make serious strides forward. You go through the motions, making some efforts, but not more.
(C) You love it. The challenge of communicating with partner in your joint quest to defeat declarer is the best part of the game.

Over the next weeks I hope to make (A)s into (B)s and (B)s into (C)s. The (C)s? Well I hope you will become better (C)s. When does the defence begin? Before you answer “Opening Lead”, look at this deal.

South Deals
None Vul
8 7 4
7 5 4
A 10 9 4
A 10 3
K J 5 2
Q 2
7 5 3
J 9 6 4
N
W E
S
9 6 3
A K J 6 3
8 6
7 5 2
A Q 10
10 9 8
K Q J 2
K Q 8
West North East South
      1 
Pass 2  Pass 2 NT
Pass 3 NT All pass  

What happened
West led  2 against 3 NT, and the play was over quickly. Declarer won  10, and cashed four diamonds and three clubs. Nine tricks and game made.

What should have happened
As you can see, declarer is wide open in hearts, and the lead of the suit would have seen the defence score the first five tricks. Yet there is no way West could find a heart lead from  Q2...

...Unless East bid the suit. Once in a while, a bid such as 2  (East’s correct call over North’s 2 ) would result in a loud double (metaphorically speaking, you understand), and a penalty. But these rare occasions will be far outweighed by the many times such a bid will get the defence off to the right start. Here, a bid of 2  from East would put South off bidding notrumps, and I imagine the final contract would be 3 . But even that contract would be beaten on  Q lead overtaken by  K,  AJ cashed, then  9 led through South. West’s  KJ would both score tricks, and the part-score would be down one.

If you remember one thing...
The defence begins during the auction. Make helpful lead-directing bids as often as possible.

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