An overtrick at rubber bridge usually does not matter much, but at duplicate, it can be the difference between a top result and a bottom result.
North’s jump to four clubs was a splinter bid. It showed a singleton in the bid suit and the equivalent of a game force in opener’s suit. Because his king of clubs now had no value, South was not interested beyond a game contract.
West led a trump, and declarer drew a second round of trump. The normal line of play is to cash a high diamond and take the diamond finesse. If it works, declarer can make an overtrick. Either he loses no diamond tricks or he gets a spade discard on the 13th diamond.
That is how the declarer started to play the hand. However, when he led a diamond to dummy’s ace, West started an echo with the six. Declarer returned the Jack of clubs from the dummy, covered by the king and queen, and West won with the ace. West completed his echo by leading the deuce of diamonds.
It made no great difference to East as to how many diamonds West held, but the declarer was greatly interested to learn that West had an even number of diamonds, and he elected West to hold a doubleton in diamonds. Declarer rose with the ace of diamonds and crossed to the ace of spades and ruffed a club.
Declarer led the king of spades, which West won. West found himself with only clubs to lead. His return of that suit gave the declarer a ruff and a sluff that enabled him to get rid of his losing diamond and make that important overtrick.
Donna Swan is a resident of Longboat Key, an ardent bridge player and an American Contract Bridge League certified director who plays “for the fun of it.”