Mabel showed me this deal from one of her recent online games. As West, not wishing to guess which side suit to lead, she followed the expert philosophy: When in doubt, lead trumps.
The bidding illustrates one of my favorite conventions: one notrump forcing over a major. Accordingly, South was forced to bid a three-card club suit, since 2 would show six hearts and 2 would be a reverse showing greater strength. North then made a jump preference to invite game, and South accepted.
Assuming a normal trump break, declarer can be sure of nine tricks: four hearts, one diamond and four clubs. The spade suit offered a reasonable chance for 10, either by winning the king or a ruff in dummy (or both), so declarer won the A and led a spade to the king. Too bad. Mabel won the ace and accurately led a second trump to the queen and king.
Declarer next ran clubs (pitching a spade), but Mabel refused to ruff with her master trump. Eventually, a spade was led, and Mabel was able to win and draw dummys last trump to defeat the contract.
Despite the fine defense, declarer overlooked a direct route to 10 tricks. Instead of trying for a ruff in dummy, the same extra trick can be gained by three ruffs in hand. And the nice part is that it requires no luck in spades. Win the K; cash the A; A; diamond ruff; A; K; diamond ruff; and finish the clubs. West must refuse to ruff as before (else its easy); then ruff the last diamond with your last trump to ensure the game.
© 2003 Richard Pavlicek