Two pointers for success: 1. Get to the right contract (like you've never hear that one before) and 2. Play it like you're going to make it. Keep looking for the winning edge. Timid bidding or play puts one at considerable disadvantage.
As South surveyed the dummy at trick one, the contract seemed to need only a little help to succeed. When East showed out of spades at trick two, it needed a lot more.
Having mentally banked on four spades, one heart, two diamonds and two clubs, declarer won the opening lead with the A, then led a small spade. Surprise, surprise! Time for Plan B.
Among your nine planned tricks are two diamonds; but if you lead the suit twice in succession, either opponent might be able to duck twice leaving an entry in his partner's hand and you with two danger suits to fret about, not just the clubs.
You can't lead out the whole spade suit without giving East his two winners and at the same time discarding dangerously from the South hand.
If you finesse small toward the J and this loses to the K , you still need some entry in the South hand in order to cash the Q. In addition, you dare not play the A and then J (to establish the queen quickly) since this will provide the enemy with one entry too many.
If the J does hold, you have two tricks in each suit, short by just one.
You know East started with five spades and two clubs, so he holds only six others you need to deduce.
Click on the navigation buttons to step through the hand trick by trick. You can also click on "Click" to jump to a particular trick.
Click 1. You win the opening lead.
Click 2. You lead a low spade toward dummy and get the bad news.
Click 3. East returns his partner's suit and you play low. This is a key play as we'll see on the very next trick.
Click 4. West clears the clubs and East is forced to come down to five non-spade cards (same as dummy you notice).
Click 5. You lead a low spade from dummy obliging East to insert a medium size spade to prevent you from making the contract earlier than expected.
Click 6. A low lead toward the J holds.
Click 7. We then trot out the K. In the actual happenings, East shortened the suspense by winning the ace at this point, but notice how it matters not whether he wins it this time or on either of the next two.
He will have to play the same number of red cards dummy plays and will either stick you in dummy with the A at trick ten, or allow you to get to your hand with the J. Either way, your subsequent spade lead (low from both sides of the table) will give East the privilege of taking the defence's fourth winner at trick eleven, sticking him with the lead at a time when he owns nothing but spades. "To the board" as we say.
This may be followed by the sound of North sighing with relief and saying in awe, "Nice play, partner."*
As Yogi Berra once said, "It ain't over till it's over." If you can count and imagine a sequence of events, you just might turn your sows-ear luck into a silk-purse score.
*The best part of the game.