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When I see declarer draw trumps, and then start to "eliminate" (ruff out) one or more plain suits, my biggest fear as a defender is of an end play. That is, the declarer will put me on lead because I'll give him back the trick he needs with say, a "ruff-sluff."

If I knew for sure that it was ME being end played, the solution might be simple; discard high cards that the declarer might try to use as a "throw in" to me.

But perhaps declarer was trying to end play my partner with a "throw in." If that's the case, maybe I should retain my high cards in a key suit so that PARTNER doesn't get "thrown in" in that suit.

And what if declarer were following a simple ruffing strategy without intending an endplay? Then throwing away a key card might give him an undeserved extra trick.

Defending an end play might not be so hard if I can detect one in the making. Are there good, or at least "established" ways of doing so? Or is this something one learns the hard way by trial and error?

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

Unfortunately, the literature seems to be lacking regarding this (unlike squeezes!).

The key to any good defense is counting, trying to figure out what is going on and what is likely to happen.

There might be some indications that declarer might be going for an endplay. As you noted, one of them is when declarer is ruffing out side suits. This is actually one of the most common ways for an endplay in suit contracts (and even has its own name, I believe: Strip and EndPlay).

Sometimes your own hand will make you alert to the possibility of an endplay, for instance, you hold AQ of a side suit over declarer and declarer probably holds the K etc.

A count of declarer's/defense's tricks, and an idea of how he might try and obtain them might give you another clue as to whether an endplay etc might be coming.

The best way would be to get familiar with the hands which might have an endplay, and that can be done by playing (with good players) and reading.

For reading, I would recommend Killing Defense at Bridge I,II by Kelsey.

Not sure if it helped answer your question.

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It's a good start. – Tom Au Sep 28 '11 at 15:41

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