The defence was off to an excellent start on on this deal but at the end missed a difficult opportunity to complete what would have been a masterpiece.

North opened 14, South responded 22, and North rebid his spades. With both players pushing a little, South tried 2NT and North went on to game. West led #6 against 3NT and, after winning with his ace, East switched to !10 - the right suit and exactly the right card. Declarer covered with the jack, West took his queen, and continued with the suit.

South held up his ace until the third round, then started on clubs. He needed to find West with precisely the ace and one other card in the suit to have any chance and, when his low club lead went to the jack and king (which won), he ducked the next round of the suit completely. When the ace fell and West proved to have no more hearts, declarer had the rest of the tricks.

Well, what was the finishing touch that West missed? When declarer first led clubs from hand, West should go in immediately with his ace and - the key play - follow with #Q! This drives out South's remaining side entry before he has been able to unblock the clubs. Declarer can now make two diamond tricks and East is under a little pressure when they are cashed but he can keep his guard in spades and so defeat the contract.