Marie Curie claimed: “There are sadistic scientists who hurry to hunt down errors instead of establishing the truth.”
There are devious deal developers who devise layouts that require error-free play to make the given contract. In today’s deal, South is in four hearts. West starts with two top spades. When East plays high-low to show his doubleton, West continues with the spade four, his lowest spade being a suit-preference signal for clubs. East ruffs the third spade and shifts to a club. How should declarer proceed?
Here, three no-trump would have been easy to make, but it was normal to bid game in the known major-suit fit.
Having lost the first three tricks and now facing a club loser, declarer must establish a third diamond winner. Also, if the missing diamonds are splitting 4-2 (not 3-3), South will need three dummy entries — two for diamond ruffs and one to get back to the board to cash the established diamond winner. These entries must be one diamond and two hearts. So, after winning trick four with the club ace, declarer can afford to draw only one round of trumps using an honor from his hand. Then he must play a diamond to dummy’s king, cash the diamond ace and ruff a diamond high in hand. Yes, when East discards on the third diamond, South could safely ruff low, but he needs his heart three and four as conduits to dummy.
Declarer crosses to the board with a trump, ruffs another diamond high, returns to dummy with a heart and cashes the established diamond seven, discarding his club jack. Cool!