ACES ON BRIDGE
In today’s deal, West’s feeble suits and the vulnerability persuaded him not to make a Landy overcall of the strong no-trump. North raised his partner to game, and West led a fourth-highest heart five.
Declarer could visualize nine tricks if the diamonds came in, via a spade, a club, two hearts and five diamonds. He simply played on his long suit and, when the 4-1 break came to light, could do little more than clear the suit. He did correctly start with a diamond to the ace and a second round, ducking when West showed out, so as to retain a link with dummy, but it was not enough.
When East won the second diamond, the defense could clear hearts. Declarer had only eight tricks and no way of establishing a ninth without letting West on lead to cash out his hearts.
Declarer should have looked ahead and foreseen the problems a bad diamond break would create. Instead of banking on a 3-2 split, he could have given himself a healthy extra chance by finessing in clubs at trick two.
West would win the queen and press on with another low heart, retaining a link with the East hand, but declarer would be one step ahead. He would continue with a diamond to the ace and one back to the king, carefully ending in dummy so as to uncover the break before expending dummy’s last entry. When West showed out, declarer would be able to repeat the club finesse, unblock the club ace and return to dummy with the diamond queen to cash the club jack.
“It is a test of true theories not only to account for but to predict phenomena.”
— William Whewell
ANSWER: Lead the club two. Even though your opponents may have had an invitational auction, you should lead actively, since it looks like the suits are splitting well for declarer. Try a club, hoping to set up tricks there before declarer can discard clubs from one hand or the other, on either the spades or the diamonds.