Opening lead: two of diamonds
Some deals seem to have a dual personality. When you look at them one way, declarer seems certain to make his contract, but when you look at them another way, the defence seems certain to prevail. In such cases, thorough analysis may be needed to determine who actually should wind up on top.
Consider this deal where South craftily manoeuvred himself into five clubs doubled on the bidding shown. Looking at the North-South hands, 11 tricks appear to be assured, since only two aces have to be lost. But that’s not the way it turned out.
West began by leading his singleton diamond, taken by declarer with the ace. South then led a low club towards dummy, but West stepped up with the ace and returned the deuce of spades to East’s queen.
It did not take East long to work out the reason for West’s risky underlead of the A-K of spades and, more specifically, the significance of the deuce. He returned a diamond, and West ruffed to set the contract one trick.
The excellent defence notwithstanding, further analysis reveals that declarer should have made his doubled game. Since the opening diamond lead was obviously a singleton, he should have given more thought to how he might prevent East from subsequently gaining the lead to give West a diamond ruff.
To defuse that threat, South should have taken the first diamond in dummy, led the king of hearts and discarded his singleton spade after East followed low! This play would have effectively spiked the defence. With the only entry to East’s hand now gone, the diamond ruff could not have been negotiated, and declarer’s only losers would have been a heart and the club ace.
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