You might think that East, with his depressing hand, would be unlikely to have any real influence on the outcome of this deal. Not so, for he let an early mistake by declarer go unpunished.

South opened 1!, West overcalled with 14, and North bid 2#. It was easy enough for South to support diamonds and North moved forwards with 34. With no guard in spades, South went back to 4# and North showed his belated heart "support" with 4!. Well, 5# would have been straightforward enough but, with his good heart suit, South decided to play for the 10-trick game and passed.

West led the 4K against Four Hearts and declarer won. A trump to the queen saw West dropping the 10. Ominous! If this were a true card, there might be problems. If South played on diamonds immediately, he could, conceivably, suffer two ruffs. If he drew some more trumps and the position was as he feared, he would lose control.

In an attempt to cut the defenders' communications, declarer led 45 from dummy. East played low, West won and, although the defenders came to one diamond ruff, South ended with 10 tricks. So, what might East have done? Try the effect of 49 when declarer leads the second round of spades from dummy. He is allowed to win and can return a trump. Now the defenders can play a forcing game. When West gets in with #A, he can lead another spade and East, now with more trumps than declarer, is in control.

On general principles, declarer should have ducked the spade lead. Now, even if a defender can take a diamond ruff, he cannot put his partner in for a second ruff and the defenders are limited to three tricks.

Game all; dealer South


4A 5

!Q 6

#K J 10 8 3

2A 10 4 2

West East

4K Q J 10 2 49 7 6 4

!10 !9 8 7 4 2

#A 5 4 #2

2Q 9 7 5 2J 8 6


48 3

!A K J 5 3

#Q 9 7 6

2K 3