Some days, bridge just seems too difficult as West found out here. Nonetheless, there were plenty of clues. West led the three of spades against South’s 15- 17 1NT and it went ten, jack and king. South now offered the nine of clubs and everyone ducked with East playing the four ( natural carding). Next South played the jack of clubs, taken by West and East played the eight. At this point, West feared that declarer held the Q87x of spades and, not wanting to concede an extra spade trick, switched to the two of hearts, covered by the jack, queen and ace. Declarer then played the third club setting up the thirteenth card in dummy and West had to find another lead. When the five of hearts was led, declarer played low and won in hand with the nine. Having totally misplayed hearts, declarer played the ace to see if they were 3- 3 and East discarded the 10D which was a discouraging even card with suit preference overtones. When the hearts didn’t split, declarer led a small diamond and West won with the queen while East played the 7D.
When West cashed the last heart, East got rid of the losing KD but West now played a diamond giving declarer eight tricks! Clearly, little has gone right for West but how could this have been avoided?
Perhaps, West was too pessimistic about spades since, apart from being set up as they were, South might have Q8x( x) and small to partner’s 7S is correct to that the suit will run when East leads it next. The signal with the 10D should have made things clear and the discard of the KD denies the ace whereas the discard of the ace promises the king. Even if this is not interpreted correctly one only has to reflect that coming into the ending East has never thrown a spades. If East actually has the AKD, then they will discard the losing spades in their hand and not the winning diamond. The lesson is to keep an eye on what winners partner can hold and what losers they will discard and not to get lost in partner’s signals.