The only good news for declarer on today’s deal is that the spade finesse works. The trumps are foul, and both minor suits lie badly for him. It would seem that there are three diamond tricks and two trump tricks to lose.

Dealer South. Both Vul

A 9
Q 8 4 2
9 7 3
A J 8 6
K 10 7 4 3

A Q J 8 6 5
7 4
8 6 2
K 10 9 7
Q 10 5 3 2
Q J 5
A J 6 5 3
K 10 2
K 9
West North East South
2 31 Pass 4
Pass Pass Pass

(1) Invitational

Opening Lead: 4

West, who had shown considerable restraint by bidding only once and burying his second suit, led the 4. Declarer won dummy’s nine and led a low trump to the seven and jack. West’s diamond discard was a disappointment, but declarer refused to give up and set out to take as many trump tricks as he could.

He cashed the K, led to the A, ruffed a club, went to the A, ruffed dummy’s remaining club, and ruffed his last spade. With eight tricks already in and the ace of trumps a certain winner, this was the end position, with the lead in North:

Q 8
9 7 3
10 3


K 10 9

A 6
K 10 2

Declarer led a diamond to the king and ace. West could play whatever he liked. If East did not ruff the next trick, he would have to ruff the one after that to lead away from the king-ten of trumps into declarer’s divided honour combination.

By maintaining his poise and essentially letting the deal play itself, declarer had telescoped five defensive tricks into three.