THE following deal presents a superb problem in careful dummy play.
South declares a contract of six hearts reached without adverse interference. The opening lead is the jack of clubs.
' Q 10 6 4
'* Q J 8
'¶ A K J 2
'£ 8 6
' A 7
'* A K 9 8 6 3 2
'¶ 5 4
'£ A 4
When the deal came up in actual play, declarer planned it well up to a point. He won the opening lead in hand, cashed the ace of hearts, both opponents following suit with low hearts, then turned his attention to diamonds, playing two high ones and ruffing the third round with the king of hearts.
When the queen of diamonds did not appear, declarer took out the last trump, ruffed dummy's jack of diamonds and got off lead with a club.
This was West's hand:
' J 9 3
'* 10 4
'¶ 9 7 6
'£ J 10 9 5 2
West won the club trick and, perceiving that a club continuation would allow declarer to make the contract by ruffing in dummy while discarding the low spade from his hand, shifted to the three of spades. Now declarer guessed wrongly by playing dummy's queen of spades, which was covered by the king, obliging him eventually to surrender the setting trick to West's jack of spades.
Declarer thought afterwards that he had been confronted with an even guess, but that was not so. Playing the queen of spades instead of the ten could only lose, never be correct.
If West had held the king of spades, surely East would have made sure to capture the club trick in order to lead spades himself. So the correct play -- the obvious play - was to put in dummy's 10 of spades and hope that East would be forced to play the king, which is what would have occurred.