Opening lead: six of spades.
The importance of planning the play from the outset can hardly be exaggerated. Many times, a declarer will discover, after racing through the first few tricks, that he has done himself irretrievable damage by having failed to plan the play as a whole.
Take this deal where many declarers would go down to defeat. West leads a spade, and declarer wins East’s 10 with the jack. He then plays two rounds of diamonds, but East, having observed West’s high-low, does not take the ace because he knows South has another diamond. That is the end of the road for declarer because he can’t take more than two tricks in each suit.
On the surface, South doesn’t appear to have done anything wrong, and he may attribute his defeat to East’s fine defence or to bad luck in finding a defender with three diamonds, including the ace.
However, South is at fault for having failed to take precautions against these possibilities. He neglected to plan the play of the hand to best advantage and wound up losing the contract as a result.
The fault lies in South’s play to the first trick, when he should have won the spade lead with the ace, not the jack! He shouldn’t have staked everything on the hope that the defenders would take the first or second diamond lead.
Declarer should assume that West led his fourth-best spade. By the Rule of Eleven, once East produces the 10 — his only spade higher than the six — West becomes marked with the king.
By winning with the ace, South can thus assure that the queen of spades will be an eventual entry to dummy, so he can cash the last two diamonds. By foreseeing, at trick one, the situation that might arise later on, South makes the contract.
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