I always enjoy giving my readers a chance to go right when a major star went wrong. Sitting North, you hold:
♠ 10 8 7 2
♥ 8 5
♣ A Q J 10 9 2
You are in fourth chair, both sides vulnerable in a knockout team match. Left-hand opponent opens 1♥, partner overcalls 1♠, and RHO bids 2♦. And you?
Opposite as little as ♠A Q J x x and out, you’d have play for game. Accordingly, I see no need to be delicate. I would drive to 4♠, especially vulnerable at IMPs. Some players have a 4♣ jump available as fit‑showing. Also possible is a jump to 4♦ (the opponents’ suit) to show a splinter raise. Maybe best is to simply
take up a lot of room and bid a direct 4♠. Let’s say you try that bid and everyone passes.
It’s hard to make an error in turning the dummy, so let’s hop across the table to play the contract as South:
♠ 10 8 7 2
♣ A Q J 10 9 2
♠ A K J 9 6
♥ 10 9 6
♦ 9 8 6 3
West’s (the responder who bid 2♦) lead of the ♦K holds, and he shifts to the ♥3. East wins the ♥A and then the ♥Q. East thinks awhile and then lays down the ♦A which you ruff in dummy. You need the rest. How do you take 10 tricks?
The first hurdle is the trump suit. There is no obvious reason to play opener for queen‑third in spades, so you should play the suit from the top. You play a spade to the ace and LHO
drops the queen. That’s one hurdle cleared. Now what?
You don’t have enough trumps in dummy to ruff all of your red‑suit losers, so you will need to develop the clubs (which you can play in several ways). It appears trumps are 3–1. At the table, the expert decided the opener rated to have the ♣K. Declarer played a club to the ace, then ran the ♣Q for a ruffing finesse. He was down one when West produced the ♣K.
It appears from the early play that RHO started with three spades, five hearts and two diamonds. (West, who bid 2♦, seems to have honor‑third in hearts and probably six diamonds.) That means East has room for at most three clubs. So, better than a ruffing finesse is to play a club to the ace, then ruff a club high. Go back to dummy with a spade to the 8 and ruff another club high. The suit splits 3–3 and you still have another trump entry in dummy to run the suit.
|♠ 10 8 7 2|
|♥ 8 5|
|♣ A Q J 10 9 2|
|♠ Q||♠ 5 4 3|
|♥ J 7 3||♥ A K Q 4 2|
|♦ K Q J 10 5 4||♦ A 2|
|♣ K 8 5||♣ 7 4 3|
|♠ A K J 9 6|
|♥ 10 9 6|
|♦ 9 8 6 3|
The key was at trick five. After the defense took the first three tricks (East cleverly concealing the ♥K to deceive you about the location of the ♣K), East tapped the dummy with a diamond. You played to the ♠A and still had dummy’s ♠10 and ♠8 as entries. By playing the ♣A and ruffing two clubs you make 620 as opposed to minus 100 if you took a ruffing club finesse (which could never gain). You had to realize that East couldn’t hold four clubs (along with three spades, five hearts and two diamonds).