Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Ruffed out

Playing a 25c IMPS robot tourney on BBO, I picked up:

The bidding went:

Partner opened it 1C, RHO overcalled 1D and I bid 1H (forcing).  Partner now bid 1S and I bid 2D (fourth suit forcing).

At this point, North bid 2H showing 3 hearts.  What is your bid?  Essentially, I have diamonds well stopped and the danger is that if North has several diamonds, West will get a few ruffs.

At the table, I could not think of a way to get North to tell me how many diamonds he had, so I shrugged and bid 4H.  It went down because this was the full deal:

As anticipated, West got two ruffs to scupper 4H.  3NT was the right spot to be in.  How could I could have gotten there?  By bidding 3D over the 2H.  Now, North with 3 diamonds and the queen would have bid 3NT.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Find a familiar counterpart

Playing in a strong club game, everyone vulnerable, I'm West on this deal:


North opens 2C which is alerted and explained as showing 8-12 points and long clubs.  This is passed by East and South. What do you do with the West hand?

At the table, I got flustered and thought I needed to balance in.  To compound the error, I balanced back in spades.  Although the 2C bid was unfamiliar, a 2D preempt in first seat vulnerable probably shows exactly the same range.  With my diamonds and clubs swapped, I would have happily passed 2D. I should have done the same thing against the 2C opener.

As you can see, 2C goes down a trick or two.  My inability to find a comparable familiar bid caused us to exchange a top for a bottom.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Forgotten agreements

Playing against an irregular partnership, I was East on this hand:

After 3 passes, South opened a 15-17 1NT. Since partner hadn't opened in 3rd seat, I felt that the opponets had a game, and so, I threw in a 2C overcall.  Against a strong NT, we play DONT, so that shows clubs and a higher suit. Partner, though, alerted and said that it promised the majors.

North now bid 2D, meant (and announced) as a transfer. South bid 2H, but when North went to 3NT, he hemmed and hawed. He'd forgotten what they played over interference and wasn't sure whether 2D was indeed a transfer. So, he decided to pass!

Now, to me. What do I lead? With all the unauthorized information (partner's misexplanation) and forgotten agreements, I decided to do the "normal" thing and lead fourth from my longest suit. Disaster, of course.  Leading a spade would have beat 3NT, but against the club lead, declarer had the first 11 tricks. The whole room was in 4H making 5 (the losing club goes away on a diamond). So that was a bottom.

To put it mildly, my "Disturb Opponents' No Trump" overcall didn't work out.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

When you've got them

Playing in a strong club game, we're facing a pair of opponents who finish high in national events.  I always seem to get bad results against this pair. I was West on this deal:


North deals and passes.  Partner opens 1C and South overcalls 1S.  What's my call sitting West?

I'm not strong enough to bid 2H over the 1S overcall, but I have hearts, so I double (this is negative).  North bids 2S.  Two passes and it's back to me.

Well, I do have six hearts, so I venture a 3H bid confident that my failure to bid 2H will keep us from going overboard.   South, after a lot of thought, decides to compete to 3S. This, then, is the bidding:

P - 1C - 1S - X
2S - P - P -   3H
P - P - 3S - allpass

Had this happened at the table, what would you think of the situation?  I didn't think 3H was making and it looked as if they were one too high.  Would I finally get a good board against this pair?

I led the 9 of clubs and declarer won and led back a club.   Partner cashed two clubs and led the Jack of hearts.  Declarer ducked.  What's my play?

Partner's plays have given me the count of his hand.  He has 3 spades (from the bidding), 2 hearts (from the switch) and 5 clubs (from his cash-out).  So, declarer is 5-3-2-3.

I can duck the heart after which declarer has to lose a heart, a spade, two clubs and a diamond for a one-trick set.  Unfortunately, I failed to count out his hand.  I went up with the Ace of hearts and compounded the mistake by leading a small diamond.  Declarer guessed right, ducking to his hand.  Letting 3S make was a bottom of course.

Going up with the Ace of hearts was not a critical mistake -- we could have still survived had I simply returned a heart, and the heart return is obvious if I had counted out declarer's hand.

When you've got them on the bidding, play tight on the defense.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Book knowledge

Something that always astonishes non-bridge players is the number of bridge books out there. Seeing me reading bridge books has put off quite a few of my friends and family from learning bridge. I try to tell them that reading books is optional, and that it is just a game.

No serious player of the game really believes this, of course.  Reading books can really accelerate your game, and give you the benefit of decades of insights.

I had been waiting for a regional tournament in the Seattle area because I needed 3 gold points to make life master, and it's only at regionals that you can get those. As it turns out, the Lynwood regional comes pretty much at the turn of the fiscal year. It's a busy time at work with lots of travel, so there was just one two-session event that I could play in.

Three gold points needed, and two sessions to get them in. What's the best way to get those? My first choice was the A-X Swiss, but all our preferred teammates were paired up.  So, we decided to play the Open Pairs.  (Gold-rush pairs? Perish the thought!)

I was South on this deal:

East passed, and I opened 1NT (15-17).   What would you do with the North hand?  If you have read Kit Woolsey's Matchpoints, then you are going through a rapid checklist.  The North hand is balanced, there are lots of soft points in short suits, and you have more than a minimum -- all these factors argue for a simple raise to 3NT without going through a transfer. On the other hand, the heart spots are piss-poor.  In case of doubt, go with what the field would do ... so, partner bid 2D (transfer), and in response to my 2H, bid 3NT.

Now, back to the South hand.  The bidding has gone:  1NT-2D-2H-3NT.  What is your bid? My hand is quite balanced, and I have a stronger than usual hand (two aces, and the jack of hearts is in partner's suit, not to mention the ten of clubs).  Partner's sequence indicates a hand with 10+ points, and I can see cases where we make the same number of tricks in hearts and no-trump.  It's matchpoints, and so I passed.

This turned out to be winning decision as 3NT rolls home with 11 tricks, and was worth 94%.  This is a choice-of-games that Mr. Woolsey taught us to assess.

Here's another hand from the same session:

As South, I opened 1H.  What would you bid with the North hand?

Partner had read Better Slam Bidding with Bergen, and knew that an intermediate hand (12-14 points) with four trumps and a singleton called for a splinter bid just in case I had the perfect counterpart.  He bid 4D.

What do you do as South?  My hand is easy to dismiss because I have lousy hearts, but remember that partner has four of them.  He rates to have two of the missing three honors.  Put him with KQ of hearts.  He has nothing in diamonds (well, he could have the singleton king, but he won't have the queen).  Where are his remaining six points? He could have Ace of spades and Queen of clubs, and that 11-point hand makes the slam cold.

Jeff Rubens (quoting Culbertson) says in The Secrets of Winning Bridge that if you can visualize a minimum hand with partner making the slam cold, you have got to investigate. I bid 4NT to check to make sure we were not out two key cards (easy enough when you are bidding slam on 25 or so high-card points).  Partner bid 5S showing 2 key cards with the queen and I bid 6H.

West got off to a Jack-spade lead.  I went up and cross-ruffed my way to 12 tricks, setting up my 10 of diamonds along the way.  The slam was worth 86%. This is a slam that Mr. Bergen taught us to visualize.

Thanks to these boards and a few more like these, we ended up in the overalls and walked off with 3.68 gold points.  Not bad for two sessions' work! Four more points (any color), and I'll finally make life master.  Book knowledge got me here faster than I would have otherwise.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

2C Blues

Our 13-year old was one of the kids in the Bridge 4 Youth program put together by a bunch of Seattle bridge players. This was a week-long camp, and was followed on Saturday by a club game. Bridge-playing parents and grandparents were encouraged to play, and so we played as a partnership.

Playing with my 13-year old, I was South on this deal:
With only 4 losers, I opened the hand 2C.  West passed and my son bid 2D, waiting. I bid 2S and he replied 3C.  At camp, they had taught them a series of responses where the cheaper minor was a second negative, but I didn't know that. At this point, I should have simply bid 3S or 4S.  Instead, I tried to bid out my hand with 3H and got a 3-card raise.  The contract was hopeless since West happily started tapping me in diamonds.  All the other Souths counted their points, opened 1S and either played there or beat E-W in a diamond contract.

Fast forward two weeks, and I'm playing in the Open Pairs in the local sectional with an occasional partner.  The field is quite strong, and we are playing 2 boards per round. The opponents had just bid, and made, 6NT off us when I picked up this hand:

I opened my hand with 2C and got 2H from partner. I wasn't completely sure what I was playing with this partner, but I thought 2H was a bust hand, so I alerted it as that, and bid 2NT.  Now, partner bid 3H.  This is, of course, a transfer, but I wasn't completely sure what system of responses we were playing,  What if partner really had hearts and had forgotten?  I decided to give him a chance by bidding 4H.  Wrong move -- partner, it turns out, wasn't sure what 2NT was -- he mistakenly thought my 2NT showed hearts (actually, 2NT by him would have shown hearts, and my 2NT was natural).  So, he passed my 4H bid and essentially conceded 5 down when he couldn't arrange a diamond ruff  in his hand or cash the queen of spades.

2C hands are too rare to have different agreements with different partners.  2D negative or waiting, it is, from now on.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Playing without conventions

I was back in Oklahoma on work, and decided to see old friends by catching a bridge game there.  I emailed one of my regular partners from way-back-when and asked him to come play with me. My partner had gone from a year where he won the ACBL's masterpoints competition for his point level to a year where he let his membership lapse.

He was not playing much bridge anymore, he told me, but he came out any way.  He did have a condition, however. "No conventions," he told me.  I've played three different systems with him -- 2/1, traditional Precision with a 12-14 NT, and a Woolsey-like system with 10-12 NT, and everything these systems imply -- mini-Roman, negative free bids, transfer Lebensohl, etc. -- most of it at his urging. And now, he didn't want to play conventions!

The lack of system didn't hurt us much. This was not the strongest game in town, and we finished with a 65% game without doing anything too spectacular. But as easily as the matchpoints came, they also went rather easily.  Take this hand;

S Deals
E-W Vul

I was South, and naturally, I opened the hand 1C.  Two aces, and a nice club rebid.  West passed and North bid 1S.  Now East doubled!  I bid 2C anyway, and partner bid 3NT ending the auction.

Now to the play. They led two hearts, and so after cashing 6 clubs (on which East threw away hearts and West threw away diamonds), partner was faced with a choice. He could take a diamond finesse or lead towards the spade king.  He decided to believe East's supposed negative double and took the spade play.  Ooops.

East-West too had decided to play with no conventions. Not even negative doubles!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Don't upgrade to a splinter

Playing with an occassional partner in a strong club game, I was West on this hand:

N Deals
None Vul

North passed and partner (East) opened the hand 1S.  As West, I had 4 choices:

  1. Jacoby 2NT showing 4 trumps and forcing to game
  2. 3S showing 4 spades and an invitational hand
  3. 3H (fit-jump) showing good hearts, 3+ spades and an invitational hand
  4. 4C showing 4 trumps, club shortness and 12-14 points.
Your call?

At the table, I forgot about option #3.

I decided to upgrade my hand and splinter with 4C.  Partner, with no wastage in clubs, got excited and we ended up one level too high, in 5S.  When spades turned out to be 3-1, we were down 1.  Everyone else in the room was bidding and making 4S.

Splinters are very well-defined bids and are there to help you find slams holding fewer than 30 high card points.  Because of this, though, they work only when you stay within the parameters.  Just add one point to my hand to make it 12 points (by changing the J of spades to the Q of spades) and note that 5S is totally safe.  Add 3 points to my hand (by changing the Jack of diamonds to the Ace of diamonds) and note that 6S is on whenever spades are 2-2 (a 52% slam).

We would not have had this disaster if I had upgraded my hand and bid Jacoby 2NT.  Partner with a semi-balanced minimum would have bid 4S.

Don't upgrade to a splinter.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Ian McEwan explains Restricted Choice

The principle of Restricted Choice is probably the best-known bridge maxim that many players don't quite understand.  Most bridge players can explain the logic behind finesses, split-honors, and "eight ever, nine never".  But restricted choice will throw your average club player for a loop.

Imagine my surprise then at seeing it laid out extremely nicely as a vignette in Ian McEwan's novel "The Sweet Tooth".

The way the principle is usually explained is in terms of an adaptation of the Monty Hall show.  You get onto Monty's show and you are shown three doors. Behind one of the doors is a car.  Behind the other two doors are goats. The way the show works is this. You get to pick one of the doors.  Now, Monty opens one of the other doors and shows you that it has a goat and gives you a choice. You can either go with your original choice or you can switch to the remaining door. Should you switch or not? This question was famously posed to Marilyn Von Savant who got the answer right, but got pilloried for it by many pompous toffs who couldn't get their heads around the logic.

So, what's the logic? I find it easiest to explain this assuming that there is a long corridor full of doors. A thousand doors, say. You go in and pick one of the doors. What's the chance that there's a car behind that door?  That's right. 1 in a 1000. Now, Monty who knows which door the car is behind comes along and opens 998 of the remaining doors and shows you 998 goats. Do you switch to the door he didn't open or do you stick with your original 1 in a 1000 chance? Of course you switch! Monty's essentially telegraphed to you which door the car is behind because he carefully avoided that door.  Monty's choice was restricted -- you now have a 999 in 1000 choice of getting the car! You are paying off to the remote possibility that you happened to pick the right door on the first try.  Reduce the 1000 to 3, and the logic is the same. You had a 1/3 choice of picking the right door, but after Monty opens the door with a goat, your odds go up to 2/3 if you switch.

In bridge terms, you apply this principle when the QJ of a suit are missing and you hold:



in your two hands.  When you plop down the Ace, your left-hand opponent (LHO) drops the Queen.  Should you finesse the 10 on the way back, or should you hope that LHO has the Queen-Jack tight? The principle of restricted choice says that LHO's choice was restricted, and so your percentage play is to finesse.

With that primer, onto Ian McEwan's inspired vignette.  Here's the setup.  A jealous husband follows his wife and her lover to a hotel where he sees them vanish around the corridor.  He wants to catch them in flagrante, so he waits a little bit and then prepares to break down the door.  But there are three rooms: 401, 402 and 403.  Behind one of them is his cheating wife, but the odds of picking the right one are only 1 in 3.  He waits to see if he can hear any sounds, but he can hear nothing from any of the rooms.  As he is debating which door to choose, he sees two housekeepers approaching.  "Let's work on one of the two empty rooms," one maid tells another.  Thinking quickly, the husband positions himself in front of 401.  Now, the maid's choice is restricted -- seeing the guest blocking her way into 401, she will choose to work on either 402 or 403, whichever is empty.  She opens the door to 403, and our hero knowing that his odds have increased to 2 in 3 now, breaks down the door to 402.  His mathematical savvy is rewarded by the dubious prize of catching his wife in bed with another man.

A remarkably savvy mathematical vignette in a book of fiction aimed at the masses!  Atonement, here I come!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Are transfers on?

Playing with an occasional partner in a strong club game, I ran into questions of what standard 2/1 is.

Opposite an overcall of 1NT, we play "systems on",  so that:

1C - 1NT - P - 2H

the 2H is a transfer to spades.

But how about this situation:


North deals and opens 3C.  Partner (East) bids 3NT.  Now, as West, I had a problem.  Are transfers on, or off in this situation?  This is the bidding:

3C - 3NT - P - 4H

Is this a sign-off in hearts, or a transfer to spades?

I decided that discretion was the better part of valor, and passed.  Partner played 3NT beautifully, squeezing South in diamonds and spades to pick up 10 tricks. But there are 11 tricks in hearts, and so it was not a great board.

Once you are playing "systems on" after NT overcalls, Stayman and transfers should be on over a 2NT or 3NT overcall as well.  On this hand, though, I have an even better bid available -- I could have bid 4C to cater to partner having four spades.  Since clubs is North's preempt suit, this would be unmistakably Stayman.  I simply was not thinking.

Flyer for 2/1 class

My flyers for EasyBridge and for a newcomer's game were apparently quite popular.  So, even though we no longer live in Oklahoma, I got pinged to create a flyer for an upcoming 2/1 class in OKC.

This is what I made:

Here is the Word document incase you want to modify it for your purposes.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Vulnerable in Hearts

"A book about bridge that is not really about bridge at all," is how Sandy Balfour describes his book "Vulnerable in Hearts".  It's about his dad in South Africa who taught him to play in "the golden age of apartheid", and about his son who was born knowing how to play bridge.

"Everyone loves bridge," his father says at one point, "they just don't know it yet.".

This lovely, lyrical book is about a complex game, a complex man, and a family that makes it through the decades with love and understanding.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

A double fit

Playing in a club game, I pick up a good 5-5 hand (hands rotated to make me South):

Dealer: S
Vul: NS
♠ xxx
♥ xxx
♦ AQ9
♣ Qxxx

♠ AK10xx
♥ AK
♦ 10xxxx
♣ 6

 1S           2S
2NT*        3D*

lead of Q♥
HTML Bridge Hand Layout Creator

Partner responds 2S to my opening 1S, showing 6-10 points and 3-4 spades.  My 2NT asks him which suit he'd accept a game try in, and learn that he'd be happy to accept a game try in diamonds.  I bid the spade game, and get the lead of the Queen of hearts.

What are your initial thoughts?

I felt that we were in a good spot, but it does not look like a spot that many people in this club game are going to be in.  I had to make the contract.

I won the heart lead and laid down the Ace of spades. East showed out.  Now what?

Obviously, I need to use the diamond entries to take spade finesses, but also retain trump control.  How though?  What's better? A diamond to the Queen, to the 9 or running the 10?

Running the 10 seems best because the two diamond honors are likely to be split.  Leading to the 9 seems to have the advantage of creating two entries.  But if I lose to a singleton honor with East, he'll find a club switch and get a diamond ruff.  If diamonds are 3-2, I may not have the luxury of 2 entries anyway. What's the right way to play this combination?

I played a diamond to the Queen, which lost to the King.  Two rounds of clubs.  Now, a second diamond to the 9, which lost to the Jack.  With only entry to dummy, I had to also lose a spade.

East turned out to have KJ tight.  Should I have gotten this right?

Monday, February 16, 2015

Is a hand with 2 high card points too strong?

The Seattle area had the "sweet-heart" sectional this weekend. My sweet heart agreed to cart the kids to their various activities, so I got to play in the A/X Swiss.

After a roaring start where we quickly dispatched three good teams, we ran into a buzz saw and lost rather badly to the teams that would ultimately place #1 and #2.  That put us in the middle of the pack after the fifth match.  We blitzed #6, and got ourselves back in contention.

To place, we needed to win match #7, and at our table was the best pair in the room.  They needed to blitz us in match #7 to win.  So, they had motivation.

Along comes this hand.  Partner deals and opens 2C (strong).  Righty overcalls 3C (natural). They are white and we are red.  This is my hand:

What do you bid? Options are to pass, which shows 4+ points or double, which is weak and shows 0-3 points.  What's your bid?

Obviously, I have only 2 high card points, but what is the 5th heart worth? How about the singleton spade?  I took a pessimistic view of the hand.  It appeared that partner would be long in spades, and so I decided to warn him off by doubling.

Partner, with 4-4 in the majors and two clubs passed.  They got 6 tricks, but down 3 doubled is worth only 500 points whereas 4H making 4 is 620.  That difference is worth 4 imps.

"Take the sure plus," my opponent advised me, "it's better in the long run."  He is a Grand Life Master and all, but it still didn't feel good (By the way, in what other game do you get to play significantly better players, and have them coach you during the match?).

I would have been better off treating the hand as non-minimum, just in case partner had something other than spade length -- doubling to show weakness would win if partner had long spades, and lose against every other hand that partner could have. In hindsight, passing to show a decent hand stands out.  Had I passed, partner would have doubled for takeout, and I can happily bid 3H or 4H (if I bid 3H, partner with AKJx of hearts and 25 points would have no problems raising me).

The rest of the boards were essentially pushes.  They bid their games. We bid our games. They bid a game, and we got it down 1.  At the other table, they got it down 2.  We passed out a hand. They bid too high and went down 1.  Net effect? One huge push.  We're still down 4 imps.

Then, on board 29 with both vulnerable, I was West and held:

Partner opens 1D and over my 1S, he bid 1NT. Options are to pass, to bid 2C which relays to 2D at which point you can bid whatever you want (non-forcing) or to bid 2S which shows six spades. What would you bid? 

I chose to bid 2S.  It's a bit of a masterminding bid, but my partner never bids 1nt with a singleton, and my lousy spades indicated that I would be better off in a trump suit.

Anyway, you are in 2S.  They lead a heart and dummy comes down with:
Lead: 5

How do you play it?

One option is to play on clubs like a man who needs to ruff a couple of them.  Maybe they will pull trumps for me. Unfortunately, that idea didn't strike me until now.  At the table, I was more boring. I won the heart and led a spade.  They won, and played another spade. At this piont, they cashed two clubs and let me ruff a third.

Now what?  Do you play for 4-2 trumps or 3-3 trumps?  Since neither opponent had balanced, I figured spades were likely to be 3-3, and I heaved a sigh of relief as the spades came crashing down on the third round.  I could ruff the club return and enjoy dummy's diamonds and hearts. 

I felt pretty good about the hand because 1NT is down 3 at least (5 clubs and 3 spades off the top).

The hand was good, but for a different reason -- at the other table,  East opened 1NT with his 2-4-5-2 hand, got transferred to spades and proceeded to play it for down 1 because he didn't have the balancing inference available to me.

Making 2S vs. going down 1 was worth 5 imps.

We won the match by one imp, and that was enough to get us to 3rd in A (first in X).

p.s. When I started to write this blog, my mishaps were gross ones -- failing to count trumps, cardng improperly, misdescribing shape, etc.  Now, the mishaps have to do with deciding whether a hand with a 9-high 5-card suit and two high card points is too good to show weakness.  Nice, eh?

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Strong cardplay

At the expert level, pretty much everyone handles their cards well, and so, winning a high-level event comes down to bidding, judgment and luck.  At lower levels, however, better card players can win long matches by winning an imp on every board with better cardplay. Matchpoint games are similar -- the strong games are those where declarers are careful and the defense doesn't give up tricks.

I am far from being a careful declarer, but I was quite proud of myself on this hand from the game yesterday:

Dlr: North
Vul: E-W
I was West, and I was in 3NT after a 1NT-3NT auction that was probably replicated at every table. I got the lead of the 6 of hearts (4th best).  Plan the play.

I ducked the first heart and won the second in hand. I have two hearts, a spade and a club. If the club finesse works, I am up to 7 tricks. A diamond would be the 8th and maybe I'll get one more spade. This is going to be touch and go! Try it the other way. Suppose the club finesse loses.  I'll get a heart back, and I'm good as long as South has the Ace of diamonds. Or am I? If South has the Ace of diamonds, I still don't have 9 tricks -- I have two hearts, a diamond, 3 clubs and a spade = 7 tricks before North gets in with the King of spades and cashes 5 tricks. Ugh.  Well, in any case, I need to get to dummy to take a finesse.

I play a low diamond to the board and the King wins. Now what?

Take a club finesse with the Jack first. If it loses, the 10 of clubs is an entry.  North won her king and played back a heart. Now what?

Count my tricks again. I have 2 hearts, 3 clubs, 1 diamond. If the spade finesse wins, I have 3 more tricks. That is nine tricks in all. But I need to take two spade finesses. This is not the time to play clubs -- I need the club entry to take the second spade finesse.  So, I played a spade to the Jack. It held. I cashed the AQ of clubs, led a club to the 10, finessed a spade once more and cashed the Ace.  Making 9 tricks.  Whew!

This has got to be a good board, right?  I had carefully timed it, used every entry and taken the finesses in the right order.  Nope.  The board was barely above average.  We got 6.5 out of 12 matchpoints for making 3NT.

If North goes up with the Ace of diamonds when I led towards the KQ of diamonds, then, because diamonds break 3-3, I will make 10 tricks in No-Trump.  But North ducked.  If I take the spade finesse instead of the club finesse, I have no more entries to board. I suppose I can lead a diamond again, but it is risky because South is a fine card player too.  Holding AJ10, he will duck the first diamond.  And once North ducked that diamond, 3NT was all that I could make.

So, my good declarer play was canceled out by even better defensive play by the opponents.  And that is how it goes.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Sense the danger

In a strong club game, I was West and held  ♠AJ86 KQ QJ73 ♣Q93 and opened my hand 1NT (15-17).  North overcalled 2H, which got passed out.

Partner led the 4 of spades, and dummy came down with: ♠KQ95 8 982 ♣AK864
Declarer called for the Queen.  If you play the Ace, declarer plays the 7 of spades. Plan the defense.

Again, these are your hand and dummy's hand:


The contract is 2H.  The 4 of spades was led, the Queen from dummy, Ace from your hand and 7 of spades from declarer.  What do you do next?

At the table, I returned the Queen of diamonds.  It was several plays later that I discovered my error.  Much too late, of course.

If partner has the Ace of diamonds, there is still time to capture declarer's king. You have a sure trump entry after all.  No, the danger is the club suit.  Sure, you have the Queen of clubs, but you need to take out declarer's spade entry immediately. Win the Ace of spades, and immediately lead the Jack!

The full hand was:


p.s. On the actual layout, declarer can unblock his 10 of spades under the Jack, but if he does that, you have the counter play of playing a third spade and getting partner to ruff -- you are unlikely to find this at the table, though.  You're more likely to think that your partner started with the 432 of spades.  Still, returning the Queen of diamonds only makes it easy for declarer, and gives him time to set up his clubs.