BRIDGE / Making a timely switch

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IT CAN often be a good idea to lead a high honour in partner's suit, rather than the expected fourth highest, when it is vital to retain the lead.

East-West game; dealer East


K 6 3

A Q 10 9 7 5 2


10 8 4


J 7 4


K 10 8 7 5

Q 5 3 2


A Q 10 8


A Q 9 4 3 2

7 6


9 5 2

K J 8 4

J 6

A K J 9

East opened One Diamond, South doubled, and West raised pre-emptively to Three Diamonds. North now made the strange effort of Four Diamonds. With no suit agreed this could have led anywhere, but South bid Four Hearts and all passed.

West led the seven of diamonds, and it was clear to declarer that if West held the queen of clubs and - as expected - East the ace of spades, there was a danger of losing four tricks. The lead, however, gave him the chance of a neat loser-on-loser play.

Instead of ruffing, declarer discarded the four of clubs from dummy. East, on lead, could not profitably attack spades and switched to a club. South won with the ace, drew trumps, and continued with the king and jack of clubs.

If West had played low, the plan was to discard one spade from dummy on this trick, and another on the nine of clubs. In fact, West covered the jack of clubs with his queen, and now the nine of clubs was established for a spade discard from dummy.

And if West had chosen the king of diamonds for his opening lead? South's plan fails, for if he allows the king to hold, an alert West will switch to the jack of spades.