This deal came up in a local teams game. The simple auction led to the obvious game contract but most declarers failed to make it. West led the queen of clubs, which held the trick, and continued with the ten won by the club ace. Most declarers drew two rounds of trumps with the ace and king, discovering the 4- 1 break. They then played on diamonds, but West held up his ace until the third round and then exited with a trump to dummy’s 10. The diamonds were now useless as dummy had no more entries and West was poised to ruff the next diamond. Most now, desperately, tried a heart to the 10, hoping that East held both honours or a doubleton honour, but it was not to be and they could not avoid losing four tricks. The problem, as usual, was lack of planning. There appear to be 5 trumps, 4 diamonds and two side aces and this apparent surfeit of tricks can lead to laziness in planning. Even if trumps are 3- 2, you cannot draw trumps before setting up the diamonds as dummy lacks a late entry, other than trumps, to the long diamonds.
With this late diamond entry problem in mind, a better plan is to duck the first club and win the second but then only cash the ace of trumps before playing on diamonds. Like the others, this West held up the ace until the third round and then exited with a trump, to dummy’s 10. Declarer can now play a good diamond and throw one of the heart losers. West will ruff and try a heart. Declarer can win East’s queen with the ace, cross to the spade king, drawing West’s last trump, and cash the fifth diamond to make the contract. This line always makes 10 tricks as long as trumps are not 5- 0, provided the defence cannot get a heart ruff, or as long as East cannot win the third round of diamonds, lead a heart through the ace, and have both heart honours offside and spades 4- 1. It is important to maximize the chances of making the contract in teams bridge and not to be concerned with overtricks as in pairs.