Opening lead — queen of spades.
Assume you’re in four hearts and West leads a spade. There seems to be nothing to the play, so let’s say you win with the ace, ruff a spade in dummy and cash the A-K of trumps. West shows out on the second trump, and you suddenly realise you’re in serious trouble.
You continue with the queen of trumps and then, trying to make the best of a bad situation, play the A-K-Q of clubs. Unfortunately, East ruffs the third club, cashes the king of spades and continues with a spade, and you subsequently lose two diamond tricks to go down one.
Sometime later, it dawns on you that you should have made the contract. Rather than simply assume that the missing trumps would be divided 3-2 — in which case you’d wind up with two overtricks — you should have allowed for the possibility that the trumps might be divided 4-1 (a 28% possibility). Had you considered that, you might have seen that you could guard against a 4-1 trump break by playing the three of trumps from your hand at trick two!
This seemingly ridiculous play has much more merit to it than at first meets the eye. After the opponents win the trick, they cannot stop you from scoring the 10 tricks — four hearts, five clubs and spade — you started with.
The deal demonstrates once again that a declarer should always try to arrange the play to cater not only to the most likely distribution of a suit, but also to a less likely one. The chief danger in this deal is that the trumps might split 4-1 instead of 3-2, and declarer should take the necessary steps to guard against that eventuality.