I held the bleak West hand on this deal and listened to the opponents bid quickly to 3 NT. Partners weak jump overcall had little effect, other than to direct my lead. The sight of dummy, however, brightened up prospects as my K-Q was now worth two tricks.
East won the A and continued with the jack, as South held up his king and pitched a diamond from dummy. Realizing the futility of establishing spades without an entry, East wisely shifted to the 2; eight, nine, ace. Declarer then lost a diamond finesse to my king (the falsecard seemed wise since I was marked with the king).
I knew that partner would not shift to the 2 from 10-x-x (he would lead the 10) so the layout was clear. It was imperative to establish a club trick before my Q was dislodged, and I also had to guard against a possible endplay; hence I led back the Q to preserve partners jack. It made no difference whether declarer won or ducked; he could come to only eight tricks.
Luckily for us, declarer missed the winning line: He should duck the first club (let me hold the 9). Then no matter what I return, he can win the K, K and cash all four hearts, coming down to 10 A-J-10. Im squeezed! If I pitch a diamond, he establishes diamonds with one loser; if I pitch a club, he cashes the A then finesses the 10 to endplay me.
While declarer was left standing on the dock, it is also worth noting that East missed a subtle opportunity. With an entryless hand, a spade continuation could hardly do any good, but an immediate club shift might. Indeed, this would seal declarers fate no matter how he played. Try it. Evidently, partner only missed a small boat, as it returned to the dock to pick him up.
© 2004 Richard Pavlicek