This deal was a push in a recent team game, but it should have been a game swing. At the other table our N-S teammates reached 3 NT, which was routinely defeated with a club lead. At my table (I was West) our opponents conducted a delicate auction to 4 in the Moysian trump fit. After the takeout double, Souths cue-bid created a forcing auction. This allowed plenty of room for exploration, and Norths final decision to remove 3 NT seems well-judged.
Declarer took my K lead with the ace and immediately ruffed a club. Next came the K, which held, then a diamond to the queen and another club ruff. Declarer was quickly running out of resources. He now tried a second diamond to the jack, but I was able to ruff, and the contract was easily defeated.
Declarers downfall was his eagerness to win tricks. With all the delicacy in the bidding, it was a shame not to save some for the play. If the contract were notrump, it would be routine to use a holdup play in clubs, and the same technique would have worked in spades.
Duck the first club, and the contract is impregnable. In fact, West must shift immediately to hearts to stop an overtrick. If clubs are continued, declarer ruffs the second club and leads trumps to drive out the ace. The key is to retain the A as a high-card control so that trumps can be drawn. Ten tricks cannot be made if the first club is won with the ace.
© 2000 Richard Pavlicek