The deal below is from a pairs tournament. The contract and the opening lead were the same in all the twenty tables. Except for two declarers, the remaining eighteen failed to make twelve tricks. The two declarers who made twelve tricks came up with a brilliant play. What is it? Before you read on, Contract: Heart 4 by south. West leads Spade Jack. plan the play.

Analysis: You have an easy eleven tricks. How do you generate the twelfth? Simple. You need to ruff out the club suit.

How the play went: One set of declarers adopted the following play: South won the opening lead with the ace, removed trumps in three rounds, cashed the club ace, and played a second club. East won and played a second spade. South ruffed the spade continuation in dummy, ruffed a club, crossed to the diamond ace, and ruffed the fourth club to set up a winner. Unfortunately there was no entry to dummy to enjoy the fifth club.

What went wrong?: South used up the entry to dummy by drawing trumps too soon.

The second set of declarers adopted a different line of play: South won the opening lead with the ace, cashed the club ace, and exited in a club. East won and played a third club which west overruffed with the heart jack.

What went wrong now?: South did not anticipate the danger of an overruff.

What then is the solution?

Solution: It is not easy to find the solution at the table as it is a little tricky. Play the small club from hand at trick two! The defence is now powerless now to stop you from making twelve tricks! Let us say that they play a second spade. Win the spade return with the king, cash club ace, remove trumps, ruff a club, ruff a spade, ruff the fourth club, enter dummy by diamond ace for cashing the winner club. The complete hands are:

Discussion: Declarer had an unavoidable club loser and he thought it would be ideal to lose it at trick two when the defence could do no harm. The play also kept the entries to dummy intact. Isn't that a far-sighted play?

Did you notice that an initial diamond lead followed by a diamond continuation on winning the club trick restricts the declarer to eleven tricks!?

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