Playing online (anonymous partners, European money site), I held:
♠ 6 ♥ Q 7 6 ♦ Q 6 5 ♣ A K 8 7 6 5
Left-hand opponent opened 1♦ and with both sides vulnerable, at IMP scoring, my partner bid 3♠. Everyone passed, and I ask you to watch helplessly with me as partner (mis)plays the deal.
See if you can spot the errors.
The ♦A was led and everyone played low. LHO accurately switched to a low heart and RHO won the ♥9. East cashed two more high hearts and then played the ♣Q. Declarer won in dummy and led a low spade. RHO played the king and declarer won the ace.
Now declarer led the ♠7, hoping RHO had ♠K Q doubleton. RHO won the 10 and the contract was down two.
Because standard signaling was used, on the ♦A lead (West led his partner’s suit), East played the 4. When South played the 2, it was obvious to West that his partner didn’t like diamonds – the 4 was the lowest one outstanding. South should have played the ♦10. Why?
Hiding the low one might cause West to misread the signal. The 4 might look high (maybe from ♦K 9 8 4 2). As declarer, signal as if you were a defender. High means you want them to continue because it will make their signal look encouraging.
South’s careless ♦2 made it easy for West to switch to hearts. Perhaps he should lead the ♥J, but his low one did the job. East read him for an honor, so inserted the 9 – a key play. Had East won with the ♥K, he couldn’t cash all three defensive heart tricks. After cashing three hearts, East should have played the fourth heart, hoping to promote a trump trick: Picture West with ♠9 x x.
When declarer eventually led a trump from dummy, East made a good play of the ♠K. Had he played the 10, South would have played the jack and couldn’t go wrong (he would have lost only one spade trick). After the ♠K drove out the ace, declarer had a guess. Or did he?
For one, it was unlikely East had ♠K Q doubleton. From the early play, it looked like he had 10 points in hearts and clubs; 5 more in spades would give him 15 and a likely 1NT opening. More importantly, even if East did have ♠K Q doubleton, declarer would still lose two spade tricks. Why?
Because East was marked with the fourth heart: Remember that he won the 9 at trick two and next played the A–K; West couldn’t have J–10–x–x – nobody defends that way. So, if East won his now-bare ♠Q, he would just play the fourth heart and West would make the ♠10 anyway. So, after winning the ♠A, declarer should have continued with the ♠J. At least he would have salvaged down one.