An “endplay” forces opponents to assist you against their will and usually occurs towards the end of the deal . . . but, here, Christmas came early . . .  

Dealer: South
Game All


Playing Rubber bridge, South opened a Strong 2S and North’s weak raise ended the auction. West led J♥; declarer assessed four losers. However, dummy’s K♦ can provide a discard for a club loser, with 10♠ as an entry to the table. At trick 2, when declarer laid down A♠ and discovered the 3-0 break, his 10♠ entry disappeared. What can he do now? 

The club suit is frozen; tackle it yourself and usually you will lose three tricks but, if your opponents play it, you will lose only two tricks. Dummy’s 10♠ is still a live card, especially if East is on lead. At trick three, South cashes his other heart — eliminating the suit from both hands. Now, he plays Q♦. If West could win, and he plays a heart, it provides a ruff and discard; if he leads a diamond, K♦ is the 10th trick; a club sorts out the suit for only two losers. At the table, East wins. He has the same losing options as West but with a bonus fourth one too: if he leads a trump, declarer can run it to dummy’s 10♠ or take East’s J♠ in hand, and then cross to 10♠. 

Paul Mendelson’s new book, ‘The Joy of Bridge’, is out now

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