East-West vulnerable. East deals.
xK Q J 7 3
v9 8 7 5
x9 5 x10 6 2
uK 10 8 5 uA Q J 9
vJ 6 4 3 vA 10 2
w10 7 3 wK 8 5
xA 8 4
u4 3 2
wA Q J 6 4
EAST SOUTH WEST NORTH
1w Pass Pass 1x
Pass 3NT Pass Pass
Opening lead: Five of u
Winning defense is not easy to learn, and even after you have mastered the technique, a moment’s carelessness can ruin everything. East, known as an excellent defender, made one good play and one bad, and East-West paid the price.
If you get fixed in the bidding, stay fixed. Once East opened in South’s long suit, it is correct for South to pass. One no trump is an inferior action, since there might not be a source of tricks. When North made an inferior balancing bid of one spade, South decided there was a good chance that North had some values in hearts, and so chose to bid three no trump.
West decided that South must have clubs well stopped, and spades was not an attractive lead. Therefore, the defender elected to attack with hearts, the better of the remaining suits. East made the discovery play of inserting the knave, which won.
The defender then continued with the ace and queen of hearts. West overtook with the king and cashed the ten to complete the defensive book, and the defenders were at a crossroads.
If East held the ace of spades, it was unlikely that the contract could be made no matter what. But if East held a minor-suit ace, it might be necessary to cash it right now. After considerable thought, West elected to shift to a club, the suit partner had bid. Declarer quickly wrapped up nine tricks thanks to clubs breaking evenly.
The jack of hearts at trick one was the good play. But East erred at trick three by continuing with the queen of hearts. Correct was to first cash the ace of diamonds, then revert to hearts. That would have ensured a one-trick set.
2013 Tribune Media Services.