This deal from a recent online match offered some subtle play opportunities in an optimistic contract. I was North and opened 1 , then I doubled the 2 raise for takeout. My son Rich, South, had excellent distribution and used good judgment to jump to 4 since he was obliged to bid 3 with nothing.
Suppose West leads the K to the ace; then a spade is taken by East, and the obvious trump shift is won in dummy. Leading a diamond now works with the king right and diamonds 4-3, but it seems better to ruff a club. You next lead a spade and
Whoa! The appearance of Easts 10 suggests a 5-2 club break, which means you will be unable to establish the long club; and a crossruff will fall short if East uppercuts on the third round of clubs (you must overruff, else a trump return beats you). If you routinely ruff the spade, there is no way to succeed.
The neat solution is to pitch a diamond on the second spade, which effectively rectifies the count for a later squeeze throw-in. Nothing can stop you, but suppose East wins and leads a second trump. The play continues: club ruff; spade ruff; club ruff; then draw the last trump. Assuming East has kept the K guarded, exit with a spade for the endplay.
Alas, Rich never had the chance. West, multinational-champion Richard Schwartz (yes, three Richards in this game), used superb reasoning to find the only lead to defeat the contract against any play: a trump.
© 2003 Richard Pavlicek