On this deal from a knockout team event, the same contract was reached at both tables. On the auction shown, 4 NT was a quantitative slam invitation. The N-S hands, despite 32 HCP, had poor playing potential because of the flat, mirrored shapes. Both pairs judged well to stop at a safe level. Well, almost safe.
At one table declarer won the spade lead and immediately ran four rounds of diamonds, as West threw two hearts and a club. Obviously, the contract now can be made by forcing out either of Wests kings without wasting a queen. But South was not playing with mirrors, and he opted to try both finesses down one.
At the other table declarer looked a little deeper into the problem. After West discarded on the second round of diamonds, he found a surefire play to guarantee the contract. All the spades were cashed ending in dummy, then the 9 was ducked to the 10 (if East played the J, South would play the queen). West cashed his two long spades; North threw two hearts, and South a heart and a diamond. But now West was endplayed; either a club or a heart lead gives declarer his 10th trick.
Note the importance of cashing only two diamonds. If three rounds were cashed, declarers hand would be squeezed when West won his spades.
© 1998 Richard Pavlicek