Jean Nidetch, a cofounder of Weight Watchers who died last year, said, “It’s choice – not chance – that determines your destiny.”

That is certainly true in this deal. South is faced with a choice of side suits to play on, and often it would not matter, but in this layout only the correct line will work.

South is in six spades. West leads the club king. South takes the trick and cashes his two top spades to learn that West will get a trump trick. How should declarer continue?

North’s three-heart rebid was a transfer, and four clubs was a superaccept promising four-card spade support, a doubleton somewhere and the club ace. When North happily showed his diamond ace, South took a shot at slam.

Declarer is faced with two losers: one spade and one club. Somehow he has to discard one of dummy’s clubs before West can ruff in and cash the club queen. If West ruffs as dummy’s third club evaporates, that does not matter. But should South start on hearts or diamonds?

It looks obvious to play on hearts because declarer has only five cards in that suit – but it is wrong. West must hold three diamonds for South to have any chance; and just in case he has four, declarer should cash three tricks in that suit first. If they split 3-3, South shifts immediately to hearts. Here, though, declarer takes the fourth diamond and pitches one of dummy’s clubs. Then he plays off his hearts to jettison dummy’s last club. West’s ruff is too late for the defense.

Comments are not available on this story.