Several years ago, South held these cards in a European tournament:
♠J 6 2 ♥10 9 8 7 5 ♦6 5 ♣A J 3
In a team game, vulnerable against not, he was in fourth seat. Left-hand opponent opened 1♦ and partner doubled. RHO jumped to 2♠ weak. South didn’t have enough to bid, but when West bid 3♦ and South’s partner doubled a second time, South jumped to the vulnerable heart game. Everyone passed and West led the ♦A:
Off the top, there are two diamonds and a spade to lose. Not losing a trump trick and doing something with the potential third-round club loser are among the many hurdles.
West cashed two high diamonds, East playing high low, and led the ♦9 (suit preference for spades). Good news – East can’t produce the ♥J. If he did, you’d be down two: he’d play ♠A and a spade for his partner to ruff. East tries the ♥6, which you overruff. Next, you play two rounds of trump, everyone following.
One hurdle down, one to go. How will you cope with your third-round club loser?
Are you counting? This is a double-dummy problem. Based on the auction and play, you can be sure that West started with no spades, two hearts and six diamonds. That means he has five clubs. The remaining position (other than the ♣Q) has to be:
If the ♣Q is with the doubleton (not very likely), this will be easy. What if the opening bidder has it? There is a solution. Can you find it?
Cash the top clubs ending in dummy; if the queen falls, claim the contract. East is left with only spades. Lead the ♠3, which East must duck. Win your ♠J and lead another spade to the king. If East wins, he is endplayed. If he ducks, play your losing club and West has to give you a ruff-sluff (you throw your last spade from your hand).
Once you stopped to count and were playing double dummy, 10 tricks were there. This was the Real Deal: