Today's deal is from a highstakes rubber bridge game. North-South had a 30-point partial and South was hoping he could squeeze nine tricks out of this hand and claim the rubber. West didn't think so.

West continued with a second club at trick two, ruffed by South. Declarer led a low heart, playing dummy's king when West played low. A trump was next, South covering East's jack with the queen, losing to the king. West exited with another club, again ruffed by South, who cashed his ace-king of diamonds and led another heart. This time, West won his ace and continued with a heart, won in dummy with the queen.

South ruffed another club. With three cards left, declarer held the ace-9-6 of trumps and West held the 10-8-7. South exited with a low trump and West was forced to win and lead a trump from his 10-8 into declarer's ace-9. Contract made and rubber won!

Declarer played this deal with great skill, but the defense should have prevailed. Can you spot the error? When defending against a trump coup or a trump end-play, a defender should not help declarer reduce his trump length. It was convenient for West to play a club after winning the trump king, but it was an error. Had he played the ace of hearts followed by any red card, he could not have been prevented from taking two more trump tricks to defeat the contract.

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