Source: The Telegraph – 31 Mar 1990

Dealer South. E/W Vul

K Q 10 4 3 2
A 8 6 2

6 5 3
J 6 5
Q 10 3 2
A K Q 10 9
9 7
Q 5 4 3
A 8 7 6 5
4 2
A 8
K J 9 7
K J 9 4
J 8 7
West North East South
2 Dbl Pass 2
Pass 4 Pass

Opening lead: K

Deliberately giving a sluff and ruff is usually not right, but the exception occurs when there are no more immediate high-card winners for the defense and there may be a problem for declarer in picking up trumps.

James Jacoby
James Jacoby

So against four hearts West took three high club tacks and the played a fourth club. When declarer ruffed in dummy, East, who had earlier discarded a spade, let go the eight of diamonds. Declarer now missed what should have been a standard unblocking play. He played ace of hearts from dummy, following with the seven.

When the heart 10 appeared from West, it was obvious that he would have been better served it he had played the heart nine on the ace. But it was late. He next played back to his nine of hearts. although it was crucial that the lead remain in dummy. When he played ace and a spade. East ruffed and played back the queen of hearts. Declarer now had to play diamonds out of his hand and wound up going down three.

What a difference the right spot-play makes! If declarer had played the nine of hearts under dummy’s ace, his neat play would have been the eight of hearts from dummy, underplayed with the seven. That would keep the lead in dummy so that declarer could successfully finesse once more. He could then draw trumps and run the spades to make his contract.