William Shakespeare wrote in King Henry VI, Part III, “Suspicion always haunts the guilty mind; the thief doth fear each bush an officer.”

A declarer who goes down in a makable contract will be haunted with a guilty mind, in particular regretting that he let down his partner. In the future, he maybe doth fear each trump suit will break badly – as they have over the last couple of days.

In this example, how should South try to end the deal in a happy frame of mind? He is in four hearts, and West leads the spade king.

South starts by counting the losers in his hand. Here, he has one spade, two diamonds, one club and zero, one or two hearts. Next, he checks winners. He should see one spade, three hearts, one diamond, two clubs and one club ruff in the dummy – eight. So, if hearts are breaking 3-2, there will be no problems. But what if they are 4-1?

Then declarer will have to score some extra trump tricks by ruffing in his hand.

There are a few sequences that work in this deal, but a straightforward approach is to duck the first trick, take the second spade with the ace, cash the heart ace, and play a trump to dummy’s king. When the bad break is revealed, South ruffs a spade in his hand, plays a club to the king, leads a club to his ace, and ruffs a club on the board. Then declarer leads dummy’s last spade. How does East defend?

If he discards, South ruffs low, and cashes the heart queen and diamond ace. Or, if East ruffs, South discards one of his diamond losers. Either way, he gets home.

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