Wilson Mizner, a playwright, raconteur and entrepreneur who died in 1933, said, “Life’s a tough proposition, and the first hundred years are the hardest.”
Bridge’s a tough proposition, and the first 12 tricks are the hardest!
Some deals are especially tough — like this one. South was in six hearts. West led the club king. Declarer took that with dummy’s ace and cashed the heart king. When West discarded a club, the going had gotten a lot tougher. How should South have continued?
The auction could easily have led to seven spades or seven hearts, both of which would have been unluckily defeated by the bad heart break. South chose the 4-4 fit because that would usually have been better than a 5-3 fit. Here, though, six spades would have been easy to make if declarer did not rely on a 3-2 heart split. Declarer could have taken five spades, three hearts, two diamonds, one club and a diamond ruff in the dummy.
South in six hearts, rather than throwing in the towel, looked for a winning distribution. He worked out that he needed to find East with 3=5=3=2 distribution. Declarer took three spade tricks ending with the king, ruffed a club, cashed his top diamonds and ruffed his last diamond on the board. With nine tricks in, South led a club. East had to ruff high, but declarer discarded a spade. South won the next trick with his heart nine and had a high-trump crossruff for the last two tricks.