Strange Things Happen at the Table 

If you study the hand diagram and count the tricks the declarer can make without a club lead, you arrive at a total of 12 by way of the heart ace, five trump tricks in hand and six diamond tricks. This should be an easy play if you remember to unblock the diamond ace before drawing trumps with the king and ace, ending up in the dummy with the spade queen for all those delicious diamonds. You might be surprised to learn that when we defended the hand in four spades at the Caldwell tournament, we ended up with plus 100. I was curious that a few other pairs also had plus 100, but they were defending six spades and found the fatal club lead.

The declarer at our table seemed to follow a curious line of play after I had led the heart queen: she ruffed a heart in the dummy after taking the ace and led the diamond king and trumped it in her hand. From my north position, I thought that my partner had made the master play of ducking her ace because I knew that I did not hold the diamond ace, and the declarer could not hold it because she trumped the king. The play became even more interesting later in the hand because when my partner finally got the lead by taking one of the club honors, she led a small diamond.

From her point of view, she knew that she did not hold the diamond ace, and she knew it had to be in my hand after the declarer trumped the diamond king. So when the declarer discarded a club on the low diamond and held the trick with a diamond in the dummy, she gave me one of those querying looks that only a bridge partner can initiate, as if to say, "Why didn't you take that trick?"

For my part, I gave her a look that said, "Why would you lead a diamond to that dummy, dummy?"

We both learned what had happened when at trick 12, the declarer had no cards left, while my partner and I each held one card. The poor declarer had not seen the ace of diamonds in her hand because it was stuck to another card, and she had played it unknowingly on a previous trick. Instead of making five spades, she had to give us two tricks and go down one. Hard luck for her, another strange turn of events at the table.

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