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You are defending a part score in a Tuesday Kit-Kat at the T.Nagar social club. The bidding has been very simple. South opens 1 NT (13-15). North bids two clubs, Stayman. South bids two hearts and all pass. It is match-pointed pairs with both sides vulnerable. You are west and on lead with S 8-3 H A-2 D A-10-5-4-2 C A-Q-J-6. What do you lead?
Opening lead: Opponents have subsided at the two level after finding a fit. So, partner rates to have an honour or two. Since you have trump control, you select the eight of spades as your opening lead hoping to obtain a ruff later. Dummy hits
Contract: Two hearts by south. West leads the eight of spades.
Defence so far... Partner wins with the ace, declarer following with the seven. Partner switches to the diamond six. You win with the ace as declarer plays the queen from his hand. Plan your defence.
How the defence went: In most tables, west correctly read the diamond switch by east as singleton. Accordingly, west won the diamond ace and returned the two as a suit preference to the lower ranking suit, clubs. East ruffed and duly played a club to obtain one more ruff. With heart ace to go, the result was one down for +100 to EW.
With a little more planning, West could have set the contract by two tricks! With that as the clue, can you guess how to improve on the defence?
Solution: It is very simple. Why not ask for a spade return from East, instead of the club? Look at the difference it now makes.
After winning the diamond switch with the ace, return the diamond 10 as a suit preference for the higher ranking suit, spades. Partner ruffs and returns a spade dutifully, which declarer wins. Declarer leads the heart jack next towards the king in dummy. With 27 hcp accounted for after partner wins the first trick with the ace of spades, you do not succumb to the temptation of playing low... but go with the ace and give partner one more diamond ruff. Partner plays a spade which you ruff! You cash the club ace and inflict a two trick set for +200 to EW. Easy defence missed, don't you think?
The full deal is: