The Weekly Vista
The Long-Term View
Let’s say you’re declarer at four spades, and West leads the ten of clubs. You win with dummy’s queen, East playing the seven, and lead a trump to the king, which also wins.
The correct play at this point is the four of diamonds, and if you make this play, you make the contract. In order to appreciate the importance of the diamond play, let’s assume instead that you cross to dummy with a club at trick three in order to lead another trump toward your queen.
In that case, East would go up with the ace and return a diamond to West’s ace. West, having observed his partner’s high-low in clubs to show a doubleton, would return a club for East to ruff. East would then play the king of diamonds, which you would ruff, but you’d eventually lose a heart to East’s king for down one.
If you lead a diamond at trick three, however, you forestall the club ruff. The purpose of the diamond play is to break East-West communication in that suit before a ruffing situation in clubs can develop.
Once you lead the diamond, the defense is helpless. East probably wins the trick and returns the deuce of clubs, completing his high-low, but he then has no way to put West on lead later for a third round of clubs.
It might seem, at first blush, that the early diamond play is pointless. However, it’s the kind of play that any declarer who recognizes the impending threat to his contract should make. To plunge ahead without trying to head off the potential club ruff amounts to giving the play something less than a maximum effort.