ily catch an unwary declarer napping -- which is exactly what happened in a national team event a few years ago.
Both Souths reached three notrump as shown, and both Wests led a low heart. At the first table, South played low from dummy and took East’s 10 with the jack. Declarer then led the 10 of diamonds and finessed after West followed low.
East won with the king and returned a heart, taken by West’s king. West then returned a third heart to drive out the ace. At this point, declarer had eight tricks – four diamonds, two hearts, a club and a spade. When he later tried for a ninth by taking a club finesse, West won and cashed two more hearts to score a one-trick set.
At the other table, declarer did not fancy losing a diamond finesse to East and a subsequent club finesse to West, and then possibly being done in by West’s hearts. Assuming that West had the heart king – certainly reasonable given his lead – there was a de-
cided advantage in taking the club finesse first. South therefore put up dummy’s queen of hearts at trick one and tried the club finesse. West took the queen with the king, but was then stymied. A heart return would go into declarer’s A-J, while a spade shift covered by the 10, queen and ace would establish a spade stopper in dummy. Regardless of what West returned, declarer could next attempt the diamond finesse in complete safety, and the game was assured.
Although the play of the heart queen from dummy at trick one is clearly correct under the circumstances, note that West was virtually certain to have the heart king. By applying the Rule of Eleven to the opening lead of the four – fourth-best – declarer could calculate that East had only one card higher than the card led. That card could scarcely be the king, since that would have given West the 10-9-8-4-(x), in which case he would have led the 10.