This deal was played in the 2012 U.S. Team Trials by Chris Willenken. At favorable vulnerability, he chose to open 1♦ holding:
♠Q ♥K 9 6 3 2 ♦A K Q 10 8 4 ♣10
Apparently, he considered the hand good enough to reverse (planning to bid hearts twice). His left-hand opponent passed, and partner made the
surprising (but pleasing) response of 1♥! RHO preempted to 2♠ and Chris chose to cuebid 3♠. LHO bid 4♠ and Chris’s partner, Michael Rosenberg, bid 5♦. Right or wrong, Chris chose to pass, thus buying it in 5♦.
The ♠7 was led (third- and fifth-best leads) and he saw:
East won the ♠A and played the ♣K then a low club. How should declarer play?
This is all about the heart suit. If hearts are 2–2, declarer can draw trumps and then lay down the ace and king to make 11 tricks. But might
hearts be 3–1? Why not try to get a count on the deal? How?
The first move is to ruff the club with the ♦10 (to preserve the ♦8 and ♦4 to cross to dummy).
Next come the trumps. On the ♦A, East plays the jack. Chris now crossed (sorry — couldn’t resist that!) with the ♦8 to the 9 (RHO showing out) and ruffed a third round of clubs high (all following). Now came the
♦4 to the ♦5 to ruff a fourth round of clubs. RHO showed out.
Because the lead was a third-/fifth-best 7, declarer knew spades were 4–7 (West would have led a low one from a five-card suit). So, RHO has seven spades, one diamond, three clubs and therefore two hearts. There is no reason to take a heart finesse. Declarer played the ♥A and ♥K and this was the full layout:
At many tables in the round-robin, declarer played in hearts, and so was unable to get a complete count on the hand before committing to that suit. Those declarers played the preempter for short hearts and lost a trump trick when they started hearts with the king and then finessed the jack. Willenken’s team won 7 IMPs for plus 400 when his teammates played in 5♠ (bid against North–South’s 5♥). The defense was accurate, carefully cashing out for down one (minus 100 East–West).