When the declarer’s trump suit is headed by the K-J-10 it is, of course, desirable that the lead be from dummy toward his hand, rather than vice versa. But other and more vital considerations often enter the picture. Dummy’s trumps may have more value as ruffers than as leads. Declarer, in today’s hand, learned that lesson too late.
North, dealer, Team match. East-West vulnerable.
South was a player who prefers to use the opening three bid as a pure shutout, indicating a weak hand. West was aware of South’s predilection, and this knowledge probably motivated the dangerously shaded double, West meant it as a takeout double, but really it was optional and East, with no five-card suit, properly chose to convert it into a penalty double by passing. Obviously East-West could not have “gone anywhere.”
West hit upon the diamond ace as the opening lead and, when he saw the dummy and the dangerous appearing diamond suit, shifted to a low heart—an unfortunate choice. Declarer ducked in dummy, and took East’s ten with the queen, returning a heart to the ace.
He then cashed the diamond king, discarding his own third heart. It was this choice of discards that resulted in his eventual defeat. It should have been obvious to declarer that his remaining heart could be ruffed with dummy’s singleton trump, but that, in order to avoid the loss of two spade tricks, he would have to discard a spade.
As far as maintaining dummy’s trump for leading purposes was concerned, there was nothing in this thought because he would be able to make only one lead from dummy and it would be better to lead a spade and finesse against the queen than to lead a trump with the hope of holding trump losses to one trick.
After discarding the heart on the diamond ace, declarer found himself in great difficulty. He led the spade jack, East ducked, and West won. A heart was returned, ruffed by declarer, and now the latter found that he still had to lead trumps from his own hand despite the preservation of dummy’s singleton trump.
The king lost to West’s ace. West returned a diamond which declarer had to ruff. The club jack was taken by East with the queen, and East promptly exited with his last club, thereby preserving his spade queen as a trick.
The contract was down one. If declarer had used dummy’s singleton trump for a sensible purpose, namely, to ruff a third heart, and had used the diamond king for a spade discard, then had let the jack of spades ride through East, he easily could have held his losses to one spade, one diamond, and two trump tricks.