There is always a temptation to relax when a good dummy comes down as here. However, it is still very important to form a plan before playing to trick one or trick two, as it is here since you will win the first trick perforce. West led the jack of spades and declarer took this in hand with the queen and counted three spade, two heart, two diamond and one club trick and so only needs to develop one more trick. Declarer decided to try for the 3-3 heart break, club finesse and some of the 3-3 club splits: about 84 per cent. So, declarer ducked a heart immediately. East won the trick with the nine of hearts and exited with the queen of hearts. Declarer took this in hand and led a club to dummy’s queen and East’s king. East now played another heart to dummy’s queen and the first two parts of the plan had failed. Declarer now needed the clubs to be 3-3 with West holding the jack and so he played ace and another club. When East won the jack, declarer finished down two. So what had he done wrong?
In this particular instance, declarer might have succeeded by endplaying East in hearts to lead into the ace-queen of clubs. However, that would not have worked so well had East’s redsuit distribution been reversed.
There is a better method of approaching this hand and that is by tackling the club suit as safely as possible for two tricks.
After taking the first trick with the queen of spades declarer should play a small club towards the ace-queen. If the jack appears, finesse the queen but, otherwise, just put up the ace and lead a small card towards the ten. If it loses to West’s jack, lead towards the queen when next in. This way of tackling the club suit wins two, or more, tricks 94 per cent of the time, losing only when West had Jx of clubs. If you needed three club tricks, always finesse the queen – if it wins, cash the ace next – if it loses, lead small towards the 10. There are other ways to play this club suit e.g. with the 10xx in the hidden hand, leading small away from AQxx will make it very difficult for East to duck with Kx!