An endplay does not need to occur towards the end of the hand. Here, declarer faced multiple problems, all of which evaporated once an excellent play was identified.

Dealer: South
Game All

North EastSouthWest

South’s 2D opener indicated a Strong 2 in one of the four suits and, over North’s relay, 3S showed a nine-trick hand with spades. Dummy was, as expected, pretty poor, but 10♠ seemed to be an entry. However, when South won West’s J♥ lead and tested the trump suit, the 3-0 break scuppers that. The club suit is frozen: if South tackles clubs, he is doomed but, if the opponents lead clubs, a trick must be established. What can declarer do? 

The simple answer is: throw opponents on lead at a point where, whatever is led next, assists the declarer. Having played one top trump, South cashes his other top heart from hand, and then leads Q♦. Whoever wins will be similarly embarrassed. Here, East held A♦ and now faced an unenviable choice: a diamond allows South to win in dummy with K♦ and pitch a club loser from hand; a trump can be run to dummy’s 10♠ and again K♦ can be cashed; a club breaks open the suit, ensuring only two losers there; a heart provides a club discard from hand and a ruff in dummy, and a second club can be thrown on K♦, resulting in an overtrick. All options suit declarer to a tee.

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