Bridge by Frank Stewart
I was in the club lounge with my friend the English professor when a player came in with today's deal.
"My partner bid five diamonds," he said, "but I wouldn't have wanted to be at that contract with a 10-foot pole."
"How's that again?" the prof frowned.
"When East bid four spades, partner should have let dead dogs sleep."
"At five diamonds," we heard, "South was between a rock and the deep blue sea and couldn't succeed by hook or ladder. He took the ace of hearts, sat there like a sore thumb, cashed the A-K of clubs to discard a heart, and led the jack of trumps, hoping East might cover with K-x. But East had the singleton ace, and South had to swallow the bullet: He went down one."
The prof threw a wet towel on the discussion. "Getting down to brass roots," he said, "South should've grabbed the bull by the tail and looked him in the eye."
If South plays well, the shoe will be on the other horse. South discards a heart on the top clubs, ruffs a club, ruffs a spade, and ruffs a club. He ruffs a spade and leads the good fifth club.
If East ruffs with his ace, South throws his last heart, losing only two trump tricks. So East discards, South discards his last heart, and West ruffs low and leads another heart. South ruffs and leads a trump, bringing down the A-K together.
"It's as easy as falling off a piece of cake," I offered.
"Maybe so," North shrugged, "but if my partner ever found that line of play, you could have knocked me over with a fender."