It was a tense, highly charged first division match ( teams of four aggregate scoring ), and when Ted's partner went down one in a 3NT contract " Toxic " couldn't restrain himself. His screaming tirade of vitriolic abuse echoed around all the rooms and corridors of the Slaughter House BC.
Ted's dummy hand was : KJ7654 .....1097........Kx......xx
Declarer's hand was : (void) .......KQ8x.....AQx.....AKQ1098
On the lead of the 10 of spades, the jack was played from dummy covered by East's queen, but declarer discarded a heart perhaps falling victim to magical thinking. East switched to a heart, with declarer's king taken by West's Ace. At this point the defence appeared to go astray when a small heart back was played back at trick 3...... but no. Although this allowed declarer to pick up East's jack of hearts providing him with 2 tricks in that suit , the clubs failed to break ( West holding 4 to the jack ). Declarer had no other option but to concede a club, allowing West to push through a killing low spade with East holding A8 over dummy's K7.
Deciphering constructive criticism from Toxic's loud and lengthy rant was difficult but the gist of it was this :
- On the inevitable 3 rounds of spades , declarer would have to discard a club anyway
- So why not do it at trick one giving himself an extra chance of making the contract, by way of 3C, 3D and 3 hearts ( this required East to have Jx or Jxx in hearts )
- If a club had been discarded at trick one, East would still be obliged to switch to hearts to put his partner back in. Now the heart return would have provided declarer with his 9 tricks.
- So assuming a sensible West would switch back to spades, all declarer has to do is cover the card in dummy, restricting East to his two winners, leaving declarer now the problem of which suit to discard ?
- Will clubs run ? Or will the jack of hearts be in the right place ?
- Table presence and intuition might well determine the answer, but whatever choice was to be made it was still criminal to discard a heart at trick one.