Surrounded by admirers and pleasantly full of ice cream and cake, the Old Master was enjoying his 75th birthday party.
"Tell us," one fan asked, "when did you realize you had a rare talent for the game?"
The Old Master pondered, then scribbled a deal on a napkin. "It was 1959," he recalled. "I was a student, playing in the collegiate 'Par' event. The deal was meant to pose a problem for East; I, South, supposedly had little to do.
"East took the ace of diamonds. The idea, of course, was that he must not return a diamond. South will win and finesse in spades, losing four tricks at most. East must instead shift to the king of hearts to win three hearts, a diamond and a spade.
"I refused the first heart," the Old Master went on, "and won the next. Since it was a 'par' deal, I knew the spade finesse was wrong; instead, I cashed my clubs.
"East could keep six cards. He had to save two hearts, else I'd set up my hearts, and the Q-8-3 of spades; hence he kept one diamond. I cashed the king of diamonds and led a heart. He took the 10 and queen but then had to lead a spade to dummy's A-K-J. No other defense would have helped him."
"Remarkable," an onlooker breathed.
"I learned two lessons," the Old Master said: "One, the power of cashing tricks to force the defenders to discard."
"There may be more to a deal," the Old Master said quietly, "than meets the eye."
A K J 10 7
J 9 3
K J 6
9 5 4 2
Q 10 8 4
9 7 4 2
Q 8 3
K Q 10 8 4
A 6 2
A 7 5 3 2
K 7 5
A Q 10 3
South West North East
1 Pass 1 Pass
2 Pass 3 Pass
3 NT All Pass
Opening lead -- 4