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Three Suits

J 6 5 3
A K Q
Q J 5 4 3 2
8 7
10 6 4
A 10 9 7
A K 8 4
 
K 10 9 2
J 8
6
10 9 7 6 5 2
A Q 4
9 7 5 3 2
K 8
Q J 3

Hearts

Against 4 , the defense doesn't do itself any good to play the A and a diamond ruff, followed by a club. Declarer ruffs in dummy, promoting a trump trick in the West hand, but compensates by playing one round of trumps (drawing East's last trump) and then running diamonds, pitching two clubs. On the fifth diamond the situation is:
J 6 5 3
K
5 4
8 7
10 6
A 8 4
 
K 10 9 2
9 7 6
A Q 4
9 7 5 3
West can ruff with his natural trump trick, but then declarer has the rest of the tricks. If West holds off, declarer cashes the K, then finesses in spades and still only has one loser.
So the diamond ruff is not the way to go. How about trying to promote more tricks with club forces? If West leads a high club, declarer ruffs in North, and attacks diamonds. If West wins the first diamond and gives East a diamond ruff, East can continue a club, forcing a ruff in dummy, but then we are at this position:
J 6 5 3
A
Q 5 4 3
8 7
10 6 4
10 7
8 4
 
K 10 9 2
J
10 9 7 6
A Q 4
9 7 5 3 2
Q
Now, North cashes a heart and pitches a spade on a high diamond, takes the spade finesse, then forces out West's 10. The second forced club ruff did not gain a trump trick, and, South got an edge by having a club set up for him.
Okay, so say West ducks the first diamond, and wins the second, then plays another high club. North ruffs at this position:
J 6 5 3
A
Q J 5 4
8 7
10 6 4
10 7
8 4
 
K 10 9 2
J 8
10 9 7
A Q 4
9 7 5 3 2
Q
Declarer finesses in spades, and crosses to the A, then plays off a top diamond, pitching a small spade at this position:
J 6 5
Q J 5 4
8
10 6
10 9
8 4
 
K 10
J
10 9 7
A 4
9 7 5 3
Q
East can ruff, but it does not help the defense, which gets only two trumps.
Part of the reason club leads don't work is it establishes a club in the South hand. Look at the previous end-position if South's remaining club is a small one:
J 6 5
Q J 5 4
8
10 6
10 9
8 4
 
K 10
J
10 9 7
A 4
9 7 5 3
3
Now, if North leads a high diamond, East can ruff and South can only pitch one of his losers.
This is the essential asymmetry - if East leads clubs, the defense can avoid setting up a club trick in the South hand. If East leads a club, declarer ruffs in the North hand and attacks diamonds. West can now win the first diamond, give East a diamond ruff and East leads another club, West covering, dummy ruffing again at this position:
J 6 5 3
A
J 5 4 3
8 7
10 6 4
10 9
8 4
 
K 10 9 2
J
9 7 6 5
A Q 4
9 7 5 3 2
3
If declarer leads a low diamond, to set up the suit, then East pitches a club, South ruffs, crosses to the A, and plays diamonds. But now the J gives South one pitch, but not two, and if he plays a long diamond next, it promotes another trump trick for West.
There are other variations of this line to evaluate, but they are essentially equivalent.

Spades

Against spades, the defense has two natural spade tricks and the A. Any diamond ruffs will be with natural trump tricks, so that can't be the source of extra tricks. Hearts can't work. So we're back at the club suit.
If South doesn't ruff any diamonds, West has two diamonds. Setting up hearts in the South hand does not improve the situation for North. So the only choices are attacking trumps and diamonds. Trumps are risky - if East gets in with his long trumps he can run a lot of clubs.
So suppose North leads a diamond to the king, West wins the A and exits with a spade. Declarer wins the Q (East and North ducking.) We are at this position:
J 6
A K Q
Q J 5 4 3
8
10 6 4
10 9 7
A 8 4
 
K 10 9
J 8
10 9 7 6 5
A 4
9 7 5 3 2
8
Q 3
South to lead.
If South leads a diamond, East ruffs and continues clubs, forcing North to ruff:
J
A K Q
Q 5 4 3
8
10 6 4
10 7
8 4
 
K 10
J 8
10 9 7 6
A 4
9 7 5 3 2
3
Declarer still is angling for a diamond ruff.

Diamonds

Against 5 , West has two natural trump tricks. His goal is to kill the South hand and keep him from pitching spades on long hearts. So West leads a spade, ducked by North and dummy, South winning the Q. Suppose South leads a low trump from hand (to draw East's only trump,) West forced to duck the ace to avoid giving up his second trump trick. Then declarer cashes the A-K-Q and crosses to the A and plays a heart:
J 6
J 5 4 3 2
A 10 7
A K 8 4
 
K 10
10 9 7 6 5
4
9 7
K
Q J 3
This is not a success for declarer - West ruffs the heart, keeping declarer from pitching more than one spade.
And if declarer tries to draw West's trumps before attack hearts, West wins a trump and continues spades.
On the other hand, if East is on lead, he can't damage declarer by leading spades. A low spade fails to kill the entry, and leading the K means that declarer only needs one pitch.
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Thomas Andrews (bridge@thomasoandrews.com), © 2000-2009.
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