Dlr: West ♠ J 7 6 4 Vul: E-W ♥ 7 6 5 ♦ 10 7 ♣ 10 9 6 5 ♠ 8 2 ♥ A Q J 2 ♦ A K Q J 9 4 2 ♣ —

East opens 1♣ in third seat and you overcall 5. There must be a better way to bid this hand, but you can’t figure out what it is. Everybody passes and West leads the ♣K. You don’t catch much of a dummy, but hang in there, think positively and plan the play.

How does playing a 9% contract grab you? That’s what your chances are. You must lose two spades tricks, so you can’t afford to lose a heart trick. It’s time to use your imagination and place the opponents’ cards exactly as you need them and then play for that layout. It’s called a positive assumption. It is also called “thinking big” and “needing a miracle.” How would you place the opponents’ cards to make 5?

A good start would be to assume that East has K x x (18%), the only lie of the suit that doesn’t produce a loser. Even so, you would need to take two heart finesses, so you need two dummy entries. Well, wish upon another star. Wish that West has the 8 so you can lead a diamond to the 7 to gain a second dummy entry. And don’t forget to ruff the opening lead with the 9 (or an honor). You want to make sure you have two dummy entries in diamonds if West has the 8.

Because finesses work only 50% of the time, you are now playing a 9% contract. As sad as this is, it is still better than playing a zero percent contract.

When you are in a desperation contract, envision a winning layout and go for it! Play to make! Miracles happen. The full deal:

 Dlr: West ♠ J 7 6 4 Vul: E-W ♥ 7 6 5 ♦ 10 7 ♠ K 10 5 3 ♣ 10 9 6 5 ♠ A Q 9 ♥ 9 8 3 ♥ K 10 4 ♦ 8 6 ♠ 8 2 ♦ 5 3 ♣ K Q J 3 ♥ A Q J 2 ♣ A 8 7 4 2 ♦ A K Q J 9 4 2 ♣ —