When this deal came up in a pairs event some years ago, the spade game was bid at nearly all the tables. Rather surprisingly, only one declarer made his contract - with a simple, deceptive play well worth noting.

In those days, South opened with a simple Four Spades to end the auction. Had the deal come up more recently, South's choice might have been Four Diamonds, the so-called "South African Texas" showing a good opening bid of Four Spades and transferring a spade contract to North, who would have had little chance unless East had foolishly chosen a heart lead.

As it was, South became declarer and West led #K against Four Spades. The normal play, it seemed, was to win, find out there was a trump loser, and try a heart towards the queen. When East turned up with !K, declarer lost a trump, a club and two hearts.

The successful declarer played low from dummy on the lead of #K. At worst this was a play that could not lose, for a losing club could now be thrown on #A later. However, when East followed suit with his 10 (dutifully giving count in the suit), West was convinced, by South's ducking play, that it was his partner who held the singleton diamond and was about to ruff the second round of the suit.

He continued with a low diamond, dummy's jack won, and now declarer was able to tackle trumps, for he still had a discard of a losing heart to come on #A to give him his 10th trick.