Todays deal occurred in a local duplicate tournament. The North-South assets do not warrant reaching game, but a few pairs nonetheless wandered into four hearts. The temptation to overbid is a disease that afflicts most bridge players (this writer included) from time to time.
The optimistic bidding at one table is shown above. North was clearly the more guilty a simple preference to two hearts at his second turn would have been wiser; and his final jump to four hearts was a wild gamble.
West made the excellent lead of a low heart in an effort to cut down the dummys ruffing power. After winning the heart nine, our South player embarked on an inferior line of play: club ace; club king; club ruff. Stranded in dummy, there was no way to reach the South hand to ruff another club so the contract had to fail.
A clever declarer could have made this hand with proper play, albeit due to a friendly lie of the cards. At trick two a spade should be led to dummys eight and Easts king. This leaves the defenders in a predicament. If trumps are cleared, declarer can win the third round in dummy and lead the spade queen for a ruffing finesse; then the diamond king provides an entry to the established spades. If trumps are not led, declarer can also succeed with careful play leading first to the diamond king; ruffing spade finesse; then crossruffing (or establishing the spades if West wins the diamond ace to lead trumps).
The story contains a moral. When your partners overbid (not yours, of course) puts you in a treacherous contract, look for a lie of the enemy cards that will allow you to succeed. Then play on that assumption.
© 1984 Richard Pavlicek