I was going to grab my ace but went for the smooth duck instead.As West or East, enter your play to the crucial trick (card rank only).If you win the trick, enter your next lead (suit and rank); else N for lead.
You lead the Q and the play goes three, four, ace. South leads the 2.
Your play and lead?
You lead the J and the play goes three, seven, queen. South leads the 2.
You lead the 10 and the play goes two, seven, ace. South leads the 2.
You lead the 2 and the play goes three, jack, king. South leads the 3.
West leads the 6 and the play goes queen, three, four. Dummy leads the 4.
West leads the 2 and the play goes jack, three, five. Dummy leads the 2.
West leads the 4 and the play goes eight, five, two. Dummy leads the 3.
West leads the 2 and the play goes king, three, four. Dummy leads the 2.
West leads the 7; 10, jack, ace. South leads the 3 to dummys jack.
As West or East, the problem is whether to win or duck, and what to lead next if you win.
Partners 4 signal marks declarer with the K, so there is no future in that suit. Ducking the diamond is likely to lose your chance to beat the contract when declarer has a singleton, so hop with the ace and shift to a low heart, hoping partner has the ace.
The key here is that if you won the A you could not cash any fast tricks. Hence, you should take the slow road. Even though you lose your A, ducking gives declarer only one spade trick (instead of two) and he cannot succeed.
It is almost surely necessary to attack diamonds before declarer can establish dummys heart suit, and if South has the Q, only partner can do this. Hence, you must duck the heart to partner, who will shift to a diamond down one.
Partners play of the J marks South with the 10, so partner cannot lead spades safely if he has the queen. Hence, you must rise with the A and lead another spade before declarer has time to develop a discard in clubs.
Partner presumably has long spades, so you must make an effort to preserve his entry. Therefore, grab the lead immediately to return his suit (the 10 is the proper card). Declarer now must fail, but note how easy 3 NT would be if you ducked the heart.
Ducking the spade could almost never gain (declarer could not misguess when you have both A-Q), and it might give up your only chance to win four tricks. Note the proper shift to the J to trap Souths queen, and the contract is set.
You have a lot to gain by ducking partner might have the king (as here), declarer might misguess (e.g., if he held K-J), and even if South won the trick you would surely be compensated by gaining another trick later. If you won the ace, disaster!
South is marked with four spades (from partners 2 lead), so he is likely to be short in clubs. Dont give him the pleasure of stealing a stiff king! After taking the A, a trump return stands out to try to reduce spade ruffs in dummy.
The K is the only entry to your long spade suit (partners lead is top of nothing) so duck, and do it smoothly. Unless declarer is playing with mirrors, he will next try a heart or club finesse (losing) and repeat the diamond finesse later. Surprise!
© 1994 Richard Pavlicek