The key play was missed on this deal from a recent knockout team match. South became declarer in 4 after the auction shown, and West led the K. Put yourself in the South seat and ask yourself how you would proceed.
The actual declarer won the A and drew two rounds of trumps, revealing that West held the guarded queen. It was a routine matter to ruff two diamonds in dummy, but there was no way to avoid the loss of three clubs and a heart down one. Would you have done better?
The key play is very subtle but would be normal technique for an expert. At trick two, declarer should ruff a spade in his hand. This alone accomplishes nothing, but it sets the stage for a successful crossruff and trump elopement.
After ruffing the spade, declarer cashes two trumps and two diamonds, then ruffs a diamond in dummy as West pitches a spade. Another spade is ruffed, and the last diamond is led, giving West an insoluble problem: He cannot afford to ruff (declarer would pitch a club from dummy); he cannot throw his last spade (else the 6 would be good), so he pitches a club. Declarer then is able to ruff the last spade in his hand as West has to follow suit. Thats 10 tricks if youre still with me.
There is a fine line in deciding whether to ruff in the longer trump hand. It is generally wrong if declarer plans to establish his side suit; but on crossruff deals, it is usually right. The chance to elope with an extra trick is greater if your trumps are evenly divided.
© 2000 Richard Pavlicek