I was watching the great man defend a contract the other day that looked unbeatable. He was sitting East holding A73....AQxx......Kxxx.....xx. North opened a weak two in hearts, and South bid on to 3NT with supreme confidence. West kicked off with the 2 of spades, which Johnny read as his 5th ( rather than his 3rd ).
Declarer called for the 10 from dummy, which had showed up with Q10x....KJxxxx...xxx.....x. Johnny really started to think.
" Surely declarer will make one quick spade trick, if I play the Ace, and then continue the suit with the 7 . Partner will be obliged to duck in order to preserve communications. Add this to a certain diamond winner, his obviously long solid suit in clubs, ands it's all over for the defence. For us to take this contract off, the defence needs to make 2S, 2H and 1D, requiring of course the king of spades to be with partner. Therefore, it is imperative I take the first trick with the Ace.
And what of declarer's hand ? If he has 7 solid clubs, and AQ of diamonds, a diamond switch will provide declarer with 9 tricks regardless of spades. However, a club switch will of course give declarer 7 tricks to cash......but what then? Yes, he will exit with a spade, which West surely to God will take. But partner can only safely exit in hearts putting me in for my AQ . However, at this point I'm screwed having to finesse myself in diamonds, or play a spade or heart into dummy's winners.
Solution: I must play the 3 of spades at trick two, conning partner into believing I only started with a doubleton. Then if he takes his King and switches to a heart, I can take my two winners and now exit safely with a club ..... waiting for my diamond trick at the end. "
So that was Johnny did, and with declarer unable to gain access to dummy, the contract failed as predicted. What a man. What a mastermind. What a player.
( Declarer's hand was as Johnny envisaged : Jx...x....AQ10....AKQ109xx )