Todays deal is from a local team match. After Souths one-diamond opening, North responded up the line with one heart. This procedure makes it easy for partner to show the other major, and thus ensures that a major-suit fit will not be lost. And so it went: South showed his spades; North raised; and South jumped to game with his exciting distribution.
Declarer won the opening club lead with the ace and considered his line of play. The singleton in dummy and the void in his hand suggested a crossruff; but a count of winners quickly revealed a shortcoming. Even if declarer could score all eight of his trumps separately, that would yield only nine tricks.
The only chance was to establish the long diamond suit, so declarer began by conceding a diamond to Easts jack. Clubs were continued, South ruffing the third round, and a low diamond was ruffed with the spade 10. Declarer returned to his hand with the spade king (it was imperative not to ruff again in the South hand) and ruffed another diamond with the spade jack.
At this juncture the diamond suit was established. Declarer could win the rest of the tricks if trumps could be drawn; but alas, the suit was blocked (South held ace-small and North the blank queen). If the queen were cashed, declarer could not reach his hand to draw the outstanding trump; and declarer would lose control if he ruffed in hand a frustrating predicament.
After a little thought, the solution became clear. Declarer must overtake the spade queen with his ace to gain entry to his hand. While this establishes a trump trick for West, declarer remains in control by leading good diamonds until West ruffs. The contract is made, losing only a club, a diamond and a spade.
© 1985 Richard Pavlicek