Today's deal shows two thinking plays outside of the box, one of which allows Declarer to make what appears to be a doomed contract, and the other of which allows a courageous, savvy defender to still beat the contract regardless of what Declarer does.
♠ Q9873 ♠ A54
♥ J976 ♥ QT5
♦ T2 ♦ 964
♣ 75 ♣ AT98
South West North East
1D P 1H P
2N P 3N P
Opening Lead 7S.
Offhand, this looks hopeless. East wins the first Spade with her Ace and returns the 5. South takes the second spade trick with his King and can only see eight sure tricks, including the Spade he just took, before East gets in with her Ace of Clubs and returns a spade, which allows West to take her three Spade tricks and the contract is down 1.
But careful playing can make the contract, assuming West doesn't make an heroic play. When West leads the 7 of Spades and East plays the Ace, South must discard his King. His now bare Ten and the Jack doubleton on the board stop the suit. When East returns the 5, South is not forced to take the trick since he no longer has the King, so he plays his Ten. If West takes the Queen, Dummy's Jack stops the suit on West's next Spade lead. But the important part of this play is that by requiring three Spade tricks at the outset, when East gets in with her Ace of Clubs she no longer has a Spade to return to West and South makes the contract with a possible overtrick.
In order to defeat the contract, West must decline the second trick and allow Declarer to win the trick with his Spade Ten. That leaves East with one Spade to return to West's Queen when she takes her Ace of Clubs. But how many Wests will be courageous enough to decline the second trick?