When the trump suit breaks badly, a resourceful declarer does not panic. He accepts the fact and does what he can to cope. Each situation is a little different, but one technique is almost always correct: Stop leading trumps. One reason for this is to retain a trump in dummy, as illustrated by this deal from a practice match.
South became declarer in four hearts after a simple auction in which all four players bid. The vulnerability quelled any notion East-West may have had about a sacrifice bid of four spades.
West led the spade king then the ace, which South ruffed with his low trump. Two rounds of trumps revealed the 4-1 break. Stop! It would be futile to draw all of Wests trumps, as the most declarer could win is nine tricks. Declarer correctly led a club to dummy and took the diamond finesse at least something worked then he cashed the diamond ace. Now what?
Declarer led a diamond to East as West threw his last club, then East accurately returned a spade. (Note that if East leads a club for West to ruff, declarer would succeed.) Declarer ruffed this and now had just one trump in each hand, while West had two. The only hope was to lead a diamond; West ruffed and returned another spade. Declarer ruffed this with dummys low trump; but, alas, he could not return to his hand. West ruffed the top club to set the contract.
Declarer gave it a fair try but overlooked one key play. Did you spot it? Before giving East a diamond trick, declarer must cash his remaining club winner. Assume East then returns a high club (best defense since West might be able to overruff) which declarer ruffs in hand. He now remain with one heart and two diamonds; West has two hearts and a spade; dummy has a heart, a spade and a club. Needing two of the last three tricks, South leads a diamond and discards dummys last spade as West ruffs. If West returns a heart, the South hand is high; if he returns a spade, dummy will ruff, then the high trump wins the last trick.
© 1990 Richard Pavlicek