Could the layout be any worse?
Bennett Cerf, one of the founders of Random House, said, “Gross ignorance is 144 times worse than ordinary ignorance.” That’s the sort of clever comment some people -- like me! -- wish they had thought of first. In today’s deal, though, the word “worse” was used by the original declarer. He was in four hearts. He ruffed the club-ace lead, drew two rounds of trumps leaving the queen on the board, cashed the diamond ace and king, then played a third diamond. However, East won with the queen and shifted to the spade queen. Three spade losers later, declarer was one down. “Did you ever see a worse distribution?” South asked his partner. “East had the diamond queen and West had ace-third of spades. If the diamond queen or spade ace had been doubleton, or the diamond queen with West, I would have been all right.” North agreed that his partner was unlucky. However, after the session, what did he point out that his partner had missed?
After ruffing at trick one, South could have made the contract with some excellent guesswork. The curious may work it out. But much simpler was not to ruff; instead, to discard a diamond. Suppose West switches to a diamond. South wins with dummy’s king, draws trumps, plays his last diamond to dummy’s ace and leads another diamond. Here, the queen appears, so declarer ruffs, crosses to the heart queen and discards a spade on the diamond jack. If East plays low on the third diamond, South pitches a spade and cannot be defeated even if West wins the trick.