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The deal below is from a match-point event that had twenty tables. Those who held the west cards committed the same mistake in a defensive situation. See if you can do better.

Contract: 3 S. West leads H Q.

How the defence went: West led the H Q. East won with the ace and returned the jack, declarer winning with the king. Declarer played a spade to the ace next followed by a small spade from dummy. East won with the king and played a third heart. South ruffed the heart and played a club to the ten, queen, and the four. Declarer then got out with C9 from dummy to the six, king, and ace. West was end-played. Working out correctly that declarer had the DA, west exited in a club. Declarer ruffed the third club in dummy, discarding a diamond from hand. A diamond was played from dummy to declarer's nine. West won but found himself end-played for the second time. Result: +140 to NS.

Solution: West should have seen what was coming. When declarer led the club towards dummy's queen, he should have gone with the ace and played a second club. If declarer crosses to dummy by a trump and plays a diamond to his nine now, west can win and give a ruff and discard and wait patiently for the setting trick!

The complete hands are:

What if declarer's hand is slightly different? Say, S Q-x-x-x-x H K-x D A-9-x C K-x-x. When west dashes with the club ace and plays a second club to dummy's queen, declarer can overtake it with the king in his hand, ruff the third club, and play a diamond to his nine, end-playing west as before.

The point of the hand is that west can afford to give a ruff and discard once....but not twice!

They were all simply following the rule: ‘Second-hand plays least'. While it is an excellent rule to follow no doubt, there are exceptions to it and unless you are awake you will not know that the time to break the rule has arrived.

The moral of the deal is: Don't take a snooze while defending, for you will be taken unawares or caught napping at the critical stage of the play!

E-mail: ls4bridge@gmail.com