Ludington Daily News – 29 Nov 1956

West’s defensive play on today’s deal comes right out of the top drawer. Try not to peer too far ahead in the story and see if you would have thought of it, before it is reported.

North and South were sound, uncomplicated fellows and took the direct route to four spades—one by South, three by North and four by South. West opened the heart king and declarer held up his ace but won West’s continuation of the queen. Two rounds extracted the enemy’s trumps and two rounds of clubs mopped up in that suit.

Declarer now led out his losing heart and West was in with his jack. It was no mystery to West that declarers hand as well as dummy was stripped of hearts and clubs and that the diamond situation just had to be faced up to. (This is the time to stop reading and do some diamond facing up to of your own.) Two diamond tricks were needed to defeat the contract and West had to break the suit himself, any other lead would give a ruff and discard. If East has the diamond queen (reasoned West) there is no trouble—the two diamond tricks are there for the taking on any diamond lead. If East has no diamond honor, giving South the queen and ten, the opposite will hold true—no lead can prevent declarer from getting two of the three tricks in the suit.

But what if declarer has the queen and partner the ten?

Since this was the one combination on which the result was not inevitable, it got West’s full attention. If he played the ace he was lost as the king and queen would be automatically set up. If he led low, his partner’s ten would force declarer’s queen but then the latter couldn’t go wrong on a lead up to the king-nine with West holding  both remaining honors.

West saw the light! What happens if he leads the jack? It rides around and is captured by declarer’s queen. A low diamond is led to dummy’s king-nine and West, looking very innocent, plays low. How easy is it for declarer to know that, that jack lead had been from ace-jack rather than the more normal jack-ten. At the best, declarer, even if he doesn’t underrate West has an even guess. West did lead the jack, and because virtue should always be rewarded and the censors like happy endings, we’re glad to be able to report that South, after winning the queen, lost the second round of the suit to East’s ten and the third to West’s ace.