Sometimes one has to plan ahead a few tricks in order to see a problem that isn't obvious at first glance. Playing IMP pairs over a computer network, this gem popped up.
S: AK4
H: K3
D: 92
C: AKJ872
S: 7
H: AJ10987
D: 10653
C: 104
West leads the D:K and continues with the Ace, East playing low-high. After a little thought, West shifts to the C:3, which I win with the Ace. What now?

I can make ten tricks by either finding the H:Q or by ruffing a diamond in dummy. Ruffing a diamond must be better; are there any drawbacks to this play? Let's see how the play will progress: cash spades, ruff a spade, ruff a diamond. I'll be stuck in dummy with no reentry to hand other than ruffing a club. If clubs are not 3-2, they'll get a club ruff and I'll go down. How about overtaking the H:K with the Ace and trying to draw trumps? If the singleton club is not with the third trump or if the stiff club is with the H:Q, I'll make it. That is a pretty good line, but I see a better one.

I cash two high spades, but on the second one I pitch a club, not a diamond. Then, spade ruffed, diamond ruffed low, C:K. East ruffs; I overruff, ruff a diamond, ruff a club, and cash the H:A. When the Queen doesn't fall, I have ten tricks exactly. It turns out that only this line succeeds because West had H:Qx and four clubs, except that I could've guessed trumps, but those things never work for me.

Copyright © 1994 Jeff Goldsmith