Sometimes a technically inferior play can land a contract because it is difficult for the defenders to realise what is happening. This hand from a tournament in Cannes is a good example. Two hearts was an artificial force and 4C was a splinter and NS quickly reached the common spade slam. West led the KC and South won the ace. It seems clear to set up the diamonds but there are some hidden difficulties in doing this. How would you proceed?
The simplest line is AD, diamond ruff, club ruff, diamond ruff, AS. If the diamonds are 3- 3, the suit is set up and declarer just draws trumps, enters dummy with a heart and cashes the long diamonds. Of course, the diamonds were 4- 2 and a common line was to duck the fourth diamond to avoid shortening the trumps any more. If West continues another club, declarer is defeated no matter which hand he ruffs in. Can you improve on this?
Reese noted two better options. One is to take the discard on the third round of diamonds and this certainly works here. He suggests the best line is to duck the first diamond and subsequently ruff diamonds without cashing the ace early. This reduces the chances of an over ruff. This is all very interesting and the idea of ducking the first diamond is not one that will occur to many players. Still, can you see any other line of play which avoids all these complexities?
Cover the East and South hands and imagine you are West leading the KC. When it holds, what will you do next? Even if you have some arrangement for suit preference when dummy is singleton, it is likely that you will continue another club, isn’t it? It needs a trump switch at trick two to stop the crossruff. Hemant Lall suggested this line when we were discussing this hand, from the excellent The Hidden Side of Bridge by Reese and Bird, over dinner.