Both sides can make good plays
One of Joni Mitchell’s best-known songs is “Both Sides Now.” It includes this verse: “I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now / From up and down, and still somehow / It’s cloud illusions I recall / I really don’t know clouds at all.”
Bridge players look at the deck from up and down, and experts really do know cards. In today’s deal, both sides now have a chance to make good plays. What is West’s best lead against four hearts? What happens if West starts with a low spade?
Over North’s textbook gameinvitational limit raise, if East had made an aggressive takeout double (especially considering the adverse vulnerability), maybe West would have bid four spades over four hearts. Note that this goes down only one, which is a good sacrifice unless four hearts can be defeated.
If West leads a low club, East can win the trick with his jack and shift to a spade to beat the contract. The defenders can take one spade, one diamond and two clubs.
After a low-spade lead, though, declarer can come out ahead. At the first trick, East should play his 10. He knows West would not underlead the ace, and by playing the 10, he finds out who has the queen.
Suppose South takes the trick, draws trumps, and runs the diamond eight. East can win with the king and lead the spade five to West’s queen. Then a club shift would give the defenders four tricks. However, South should see that he has 10 winners via one spade, six hearts and three diamonds. He can fail only if West regains the lead. So, by ducking at trick one, he is safe.