Satchel Paige, who was arguably the first great African-American baseball pitcher, said, “Work like you don’t need the money. Love like you’ve never been hurt. Dance like nobody’s watching. ”

When you dance, you can go slowly– perhaps doing a fox trot. Or you can move quickly– maybe performing a fandango.

It is often similar at the bridge table. Should defenders fight actively for tricks, or should they sit back and wait for declarer to furnish them with winners?

Defenders should listen to the bidding. Does it sound like the opponents are strong, perhaps stopping in game after a couple of slam-tries? If so, try to win tricks quickly. Or did they squeeze every last drop out of the cards, perhaps bidding one spade-two spades-three spades-four spades-pass? Then, defend passively. In addition, take the dummy into account. If it is balanced, there is usually no hurry to cash winners. But if it is unbalanced, threatening to give declarer discards on a good side suit and ruffs, speed is of the essence for the defense. Into which category does today’s deal fall?

If I had been North, I would have raised to three no-trump with that strong doubleton, but that contract would have failed also.

Against four spades, West leads a diamond and East takes dummy’s queen with his king. What next?

With such a balanced dummy, East should go passive, returning a diamond to get the entry off the board (or switch to a trump). Now the contract must fail. An active club shift by East backfires if South plays low from his hand.

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