The Weekly Vista
There are many hands where defending mechanically will allow declarer to get home with a contract that could have been defeated.
Consider this deal from a team-of-four match where West led the queen of spades against four hearts. South played low from dummy, as did
East, and West continued with the jack. Declarer took the ace, ruffed a spade, played the A-Q of hearts and led a low diamond to the nine.
West cashed two diamonds but was then stymied. He had to lead a club or diamond, either of which would hand South the contract.
At the other table, four hearts was also the final contract. Again West led the queen of spades, ducked in dummy, but here East overtook the queen with the king and returned a diamond. West cashed two diamonds and reverted to spades, thus putting the contract out of reach. South later lost a club trick and went down one.
The second East defended exceptionally well to defeat the contract. Overtaking the queen of spades was not particularly difficult, as West was marked by the bidding and declarer’s first play with the Q-J-x.
But East then guessed well to shift to a diamond rather than a club. Had East returned a club at trick two, South could still have made the contract with careful play.
He puts up the ace, leads a spade to the ace and ruffs a spade. He then leads a trump to the jack, ruffs dummy’s last spade, cashes the ace of trump and exits with the queen of clubs. West takes the king but is helpless, since he must either establish dummy’s ten of clubs or South’s king of diamonds as declarer’s 10th trick.