This deal comes from my most fertile source – the South Florida Bridge Players IMPs game. With both sides vulnerable, South held:
♠ A 10 8 7 6 5 ♥ K 10 3 ♦ K 2 ♣ 6 5
After his right-hand opponent dealt and opened a weak 2♦, South overcalled 2♠ (a dead minimum, I’d say). LHO raised to 3♦ and partner jumped to 4♠. You get to play it there.
West leads the ♦5 and you see:
You will lose a trick in each minor and the ♥A. It is apparent that everything hinges on finding the ♥J – unless you can somehow find a way to discard a heart on dummy’s clubs.
East wins the ♦A and returns the ♦Q.
At the table, declarer drew trumps (LHO started with a singleton ♠J), ending in hand. He tried a club to dummy’s jack. If LHO had the ♣K Q, this would immediately solve all problems. Even if it lost, declarer expected to be able to get a count on the hand.
The ♠J lost to East’s queen and a club came back. Declarer won the ♣A and ruffed a club, East throwing a diamond. Are you counting? East started with ♣Q 9, two trumps and likely six diamonds. This means hearts are 4–3, with West having four. Accordingly, declarer went with the 4:3 odds and finessed against West in hearts. This was the Real Deal:
True, it was unlucky that the hand with only three hearts happened to have the jack. There was, however, a much better line of play available. After winning the ♦K, declarer should cash the ♣A, draw trumps ending in hand and lead towards dummy’s ♣J.
Do you see the extra chances?
If West started with the ♣K Q, declarer is still OK. Upon winning a high club, West will have to either break hearts, give up a ruff and sluff, or lead from his other club honor (setting up dummy’s ♣J).
If clubs prove to be 4–3 with nothing interesting happening, that means East started with two spades, six diamonds and at least three clubs – making it likely West has the ♥J. Best of all is that clubs will often be 5–2 (as in the Real Deal). Look what happens on the second round of clubs. Assuming West plays low, East has to win the ♣Q and is immediately endplayed into breaking hearts or issuing a ruff and sluff.
This superior line of play was missed at both tables in this expert game.