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Look for early ducking plays.

 A 8 6 4 3
 A K 5 3   
 A 2
 7 5 

Declaring 4  on the above hands (on  K lead), you would duck (winning is fine), take the second club, cash  AK (both following), then, leaving the master trump outstanding, play out the top hearts. If the suit splits 3-3, you have a long card; but there is no heart split that bothers you, for you can simply trump your fourth heart with dummy’s remaining trump (not minding if and when their master trump is used). Now look at our featured - similar
but not quite the same - 4  contract.

North Deals
None Vul
A 8 3
8 3 2
9 7 3 2
A 6 5
Q 10 9
Q 10 7 5
J 8
K Q J 4
W   E
J 7
J 9
Q 10 6 5 4
10 9 7 3
K 6 5 4 2
A K 6 4
8 2
West North East South
  1  Pass 2 1
Pass 4 2 Pass Pass
  1. Close between this and 1 NT, but North’s barren hand looks better as dummy, with the lead coming round to South’s hoped-for promoteable cards.
  2. Might try Three Hearts, as 4-4 fits tend
    to play better than 5-3 (there are discards
    on the unequal lengthed side-suit).


What happened
Declarer ducked  K lead (good communication-cutting play), won  Q continuation with  A, cashed  AK, then, leaving  Q outstanding, led  AK and a third heart. No good - West won  10, cashed  Q drawing dummy’s last trump, then cashed  Q. Down one. Playing  AK and a third heart before touching trumps would be no good either. West could win and lead a fourth heart, promoting East’s trump holding.

What should have happened
You saw the smooth way to play our introductory pair of hands. Manoeuvre to that position, and you will have a similarly smooth time.
The correct line is to win the second club, and duck a heart (key play). You can ruff the likely third club, cash ªAK, then play ©AK and ruff the fourth heart with dummy’s remaining trump. Game made.

If you remember one thing...
Look for early ducking plays, recalling a familiar motto: “if you have to lose a trick in a suit, lose the first round”.

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