North      
K75
AKJ3
West83East
10832Q5324
102Q9764
J10974SouthAQ2
J10SAQJ96A964
H85
DK65
CK87


East opened the bidding with 1 but South quickly arrived at 4. Against this contract West led the 10, won by dummy's ace. A diamond was now led toward the closed hand. How should East defend?

There is, in fact, only one card East can play here, and it's not the ace. If East takes his ace and returns, say, a trump (as good as anything), declarer will win in dummy, cross to the K, ruff a diamond, and lead a club toward his king. East ducks this to avoid giving declarer two club tricks, but the position is then:


       North      
7
KJ3
West-East
1083Q53-
2Q976
J10South-
JSAQJ9A96
H8
D-
C87


South now cashes four rounds of spades, squeezing East in hearts and clubs. For if East discards two hearts and two clubs, declarer endplays him with a club. If East instead discards three hearts and one club, declarer cashes the KJ. Making 5 either way.

Back to the original problem. What diamond should East play at trick two?

If he tries the 2, declarer wins the king and exits a diamond. East wins perforce and is now in the same dilemma. A spade return enables declarer to win in dummy and lead toward his K. As before, East must duck. Declarer now wins his king, ruffs a diamond, and plays off his spades, squeezing East again.

Did you recognize at first glance that the Q is your only play at trick two?

Look what happens when East plays the queen. Declarer wins this with the king, but when he now exits a diamond, West wins and leads another heart. This destroys declarer's squeeze communications. Upon winning the heart return in dummy, he leads a club to his king (East ducking), ruffs a diamond, and rattles off his trumps. This time, though, East is not embarrassed, as this is the end position:


       North      
-
J
West-East
-Q5-
-Q
J10South-
J10S9A9
H-
D-
C87


South must lose two more tricks, and three in total. Because this deal was played in a duplicate pairs event where overtricks are critical, -420 (as opposed to -450) was an excellent score for the defense.

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