Every now and then, what appears to be a sure trick disappears. That is what happened on the following deal, played in the Fall NABC in Lancaster PA in 1989. The skillful declarer was Haig Tchamitch, known to many as Hagar.
West led a low diamond to the ace as Tchamitch unblocked the jack. A spade was returned, ducked to West’s king. West played another spade, taken by South with the ace. Tchamitch finessed the ♦9 a trick four, cashed the ♦K and ♠Q, pitching hearts, and returned to his hand by ruffing dummy’s last diamond. East pitched a heart on the fourth round of diamonds.
The ♥A and a heart ruff brought the ♥K tumbling down. Even so, it looked as though East-West had a sure trump trick with three to jack in one hand and two to the queen in the other. It didn’t work out that way.
This was the position when Tchamitch led the ♠9 from dummy:
East ruffed with the ♣Q, but Tchamitch overruffed with the ♣K as West followed suit. He then played the ♣10 to the jack and ace, blotting out East’s ♣9. Dummy’s ♣8 7 took the last two tricks.
If East had ruffed with the ♣9 instead, South could overruff, cashed the ♣K, dropping the queen, and finessed against West’s ♣J 5 to win the last two tricks.
If East had discarded a heart, Tchamitch would have ruffed with the ♣6 and led the ♥Q. At that point, West would have been all trumps. West could ruff high or low, but it wouldn’t matter.
A low ruff would be overruffed in dummy and the two top clubs would take the last two tricks.
If West ruffs with the jack, North overruffs and finesses against the ♣Q 9 for the last two tricks.
Voila! It was a disappearing trump trick — also know as the Devil’s Coup.
The full deal: