The timing was off
For the fourth week in a row, we visit the 2018 U.S. Team Trials. And, for the fourth week in a row, an expert’s mistake cost big time. South held:
♠ J 5 ♥7 6 5 3 2 ♦10 ♣K Q J 8 3
Both vulnerable, his partner dealt and opened 1♦. His right-hand opponent doubled, and he chose an interesting 2♣. With the takeout doubler usually having hearts, I kind of like this off-beat action. You’ll like it too when LHO bids 2♥(!) and your partner jumps to 5♣. RHO doubles and you play it there with a low spade lead:
RHO wins the ♠K and shifts to the ♣6. Declarer ran this to dummy’s 9 and led a second spade. East won and forced dummy with a heart. Declarer (belatedly) played the ♦A and a low diamond (the king falling from East). He crossed to the ♣A, West showing out, to leave:
If everyone had followed on the second club, all would be good. Declarer would ruff a diamond in hand and dummy would be high (with the ♣5 as an entry via a heart ruff ). However, East still had the ♣10. The diamonds weren’t established – West still had two remaining. Declarer ended up down two. This was the Real Deal:
Let’s review the play. A spade was led to the king (double dummy, only a trump lead sets the contract). The trump return went to dummy’s 9, but declarer erred by playing a second spade. This allowed East to win and prematurely tap dummy.
At trick three, declarer should work on diamonds. The ♦A and a diamond ruff are followed by drawing trump, ending in dummy. The difference is that in this version, trumps are all drawn and dummy still has a trump remaining. Declarer sets up the diamonds with a ruff and then plays the ♠J. East wins, but dummy is high, and still has a trump.