Fran Lebowitz said, “Food is an important part of a balanced diet.”

Reducing your high-card weight – unblocking – is an important part of balanced defense and declarer play. Who has to make which unblocking play in this deal? South is in three no-trump, and West leads his fourth-highest spade.

North’s jump to game was aggressive, but he had good impletion (filling) in his long suits. His hand was the type opposite which partner rated to make nine tricks or six, not seven or eight. (If you play tournament bridge, in a pair event, pass out one no-trump because it does not pay to push for thin games. But in a team event, or Chicago, jump to three no-trump.)

Declarer starts with only five top tricks: one spade (first trick), one heart, one diamond and two clubs. He will play on clubs for another two tricks, then hope to have some fortune in the red suits.

South, after taking East’s spade 10 with his king, cashes the club ace and leads another club. When West plays the queen, declarer ducks in the dummy, so that East cannot get on play for a spade return through the queen.

West, knowing his partner has only 1-3 points, might shift to a low diamond, hoping that his partner has the 10 and declarer mis-guesses. With this layout, though, West has no winning continuation.

As you have no doubt spotted, West missed his moment. He should have thrown his club queen under South’s ace, to stop the end-play. Then East would have taken a club trick and could have led the spade jack to give the defenders one club, three spades and, later, a redsuit trick.

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