Dear Dr. Robert:
There has been much conversation recently about who is the captain and who is the crew. However, this seems to apply only to bidding. “The Best Defense…” raises the question, who is the captain when defending?
Excellent question! Recall that, in standard captain/crew theory, the first player to bid is the crew. Analogously, on defense the opening leader is always the crew, and his partner is always the captain. The leader (crew) passes information to his partner (captain) with his opening lead, and if the captain needs more information he can use his cards to ask questions to the crew. For example, against a 3NT contract the crew leads the 2 of hearts, passing the information “I have four hearts.” The captain wins the heart ace (from either bare ace, ace king, or ace king queen, as he has no obligation to pass information to the crew) and returns the 2 of spades, asking the question “why did you make such a terrible heart lead when a spade was clearly called for on the auction?” The crew wins the ace of spades (he cannot now have the king, as he does have to pass information to the captain) and returns the 3 of hearts, passing the information “a heart was correct, and your spade play was terrible.” The captain wins the king, throws his cards out the window, and drives home. This asks the question “why did I agree to play bridge with you in the first place?”
And remember, on the trip home, to thank Gerard for perfecting the theory for you.