Opening lead — nine of clubs.
Everyone gets to a bad contract from time to time, even with good bidding, but when this happens, declarer should still make his best effort to try to get home safely.
South reached four hearts on the bidding shown, and West led a club. East took the ace and shifted to a spade. West cashed the Q-A and led a third spade, ruffed by South.
Thinking that his best chance was to find the Q-J of hearts doubleton, declarer cashed the A-K of trumps. West later scored the jack of hearts, and South went down one.
South could have made the contract, however. Though it might seem that declarer cannot avoid losing a trump trick if he plays correctly, he will lose only three tricks.
After ruffing the spade at trick four, he trumps a club in dummy and cashes the Q-K-A of diamonds. He then ruffs the nine of diamonds, producing this position:
Declarer now leads the king of clubs. West’s play at this point does not matter, but let’s assume he discards a spade, in which case dummy does also. South then leads the jack of clubs.
If West trumps low, South has an easy time making the rest of the tricks. If West trumps with the jack instead, he might cause declarer some worry, but the result comes out the same. South overruffs with dummy’s ace and leads the ten of hearts to trap East’s queen.
This method of play has a much better chance of avoiding a trump loser than playing for the Q-J to fall. Of course, it still requires a fair amount of luck to succeed, but that’s what you need plenty of when you get to a bad contract.