K 9 7 4
9 8 5
Q J 6 4 3
A 9 6 4
A Q J 2
7 6 2
K Q 5
10 8 5 3
A K 10 4 3
J 10 8 3 2
A K 8 5 2
Trump management is one of those fine points that, all together, make up the vast gulf, the yawning chasm separating the student from the teacher, the STCP™ from the master, the expert from the EXPERT.
Our hero is declaring 4H after an aggressive but reasonable auction. The spade cue shows a maximum and invites to game, and Gee, vulnerable at IMPs, raises to what is likely to be an underdog but playable game, despite his minimum. There is of course the vital consideration that he will declare.
The defense begins with two rounds of clubs, forcing the closed hand to ruff. Gee runs the trump 10, which holds. Another round of trump reveals the bad news, as South discards a spade. Gee goes up with the trump ace and makes the brilliant discovery play of a round of spades. All follow, and he knows that South began with exactly five.
Only now does he start the diamonds. The first round brings the jack from South. Restricted choice dictates a second-round finesse, and the STCP™ might get confused here. Not the master: he reasons that a diamond stiff would make South 5-6 in the blacks and at favorable vulnerability a good bet to bid 3C over 2H. Yet he passed. So the jack must be from QJ doubleton. Et voilà: the second top honor drops the queen.
With all side suit winners, one trick in for the defense, and two trump outstanding, Gee’s next play is a trump. North wins the king and drives out dummy’s last trump with a club, retaining the master trump, ruffing in on the spade and cashing two clubs. Down 2.
Even had the trump split not been known, and even had the remaining trumps been split 1-1, the STCP would know simply to play winners, letting the opponents score their trumps separately, but scoring up the vulnerable game. Gee has once again demonstrated a skill at which the STCP fails miserably, namely that of masterfully snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.