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THE defence started perfectly on this recent deal from match play, but went astray as early as the second trick. East-West are still trying to apportion the blame in what looked to be a straightforward situation.

North opened Two No-trumps and, as the partnership was not using transfers, South jumped to Four Hearts to end the auction. As you can see, this contract would be much better if it were played from the North seats.

West led the jack of diamonds and, although it was highly unlikely that West had led away from the ace, declarer covered with dummy's king. This lost to the ace and the stage was set for three more rounds of diamonds, for West to ruff the last with his nine of hearts and so promote a trump trick for his partner. For this to work out, however, the third trick had to be won by East.

In practice East cashed his queen of diamonds first and it was West who won the third trick with his ten. Clearly East could have made things easy by leading a low diamond at trick 2, but West could have saved the day by dropping his ten under the queen.

I think that West was at fault - he should appreciate that his partner must hold the nine to defeat the contract, so it is safe to unblock with his ten. East was quite right to lead the queen rather than the two - it would have been necessary if West had started with jack and ten alone.