So far we have concentrated mainly on the means whereby the declarer is helped in making his contract. But there is an equally important part of bridge, and that is the defense. If values were equally divided when cards were dealt, you would be the declarer 1/4 of the time, dummy 1/4 of the time, and defending 1/2 of the time. Sometimes when you have had a particularly bad run of cards, it seems like you are defending 100% of the time. So it's important to know what it is all about.

It is a popular saying in bridge when you lose that you didn't get the cards. You can't win unless you get the cards. And yet, it is equally true that if you defend well, you will get the opposition's contracts down at least 1/3 of the time. And if you are judicious in your doubling, you may well get quite a good score without ever having very good cards.

However, having tried to tell you how important defense is, there really is not a whole lot to be written about it. We've talked at length about the opening lead, and how if you manage to find the right lead, you can often defeat a contract which with another lead would have been undefeatable.  So that is the first line of a good defense. Making the right lead - and your partner knowing what your lead means, or doesn't mean.

Then, another aspect of defense that is very important is trying to mess up the declarer's strategy. You will be aware of what he/she has in mind - because you know the suggestions on how to win a contract, so it's up to you to try to put as many obstacles in the way of declarer accomplishing his/her aims.  For instance, if they are intending to use the trump individually, by cross trumping, when you get in, you should play trump. If they are trying to lose their losers first, you should duck, and keep ducking for as long as you can without giving away your trick completely.

SIGNALLING  is an aspect of defense that hasn't yet come up. This is a system whereby the defending partners can communicate to each other what they want and don't want played. There are lots of different signalling systems, some quite complicated, but I will teach you a very simple one. When you are discarding for the first time, you should  throw away an even card in the suit that you would like to have your partner play back to you. So if the lead card is a Club, and you don't have any Clubs, and therefore will be discarding - and you have the Ace, King, 9,5, and 2 of Diamonds. So your discard would be the 2 of Diamonds which should tell your partner that you would like him to play Diamonds at the first opportunity.  Sometimes you don't have an even card in the suit that you want that you are prepared to discard. Another thing you can do is throw away an odd card in a suit that you don't want, hoping that if he discovers what you don't want, it will be logical what you do want. So if you had the same cards above, except a 3 instead of a 2, so you had no even cards at all to discard, but you also had 8,5,3 of Hearts. This time if you discard the 3 of Hearts you are telling your partner, you do not want him to play a Heart back to you. Since Clubs you don't have, and Spades might well be trump, there is only one other suit for him to lead back to you. This aspect is quite difficult to get into, and takes practice, but is worthwhile doing. And the more information you can tell your partner in this way, the better.

Even when you are following suit, you can communicate to your partner. Say he has led the Ace of Spades, and you have the King, Queen and 10 and 4 of Spades but are afraid he might not play the suit again, because he has no idea where the other high honours are. If you play the 10 - which is a noticeably unusually high card, he should realise from that you want the suit returned, either because you have other winners in the suit, or might be trumping it.

60. When you are discarding on a Spade lead, which card will tell your partner the most about your hand?

Hearts        8,6,5
Diamonds   9,7,4
Clubs          A,K,6,3

a. 5 of Hearts
b. 3 of Clubs
c. 6 of Clubs