South holds:

♠ K J 6 5 4
♥ J 7
♦ 8 7 4
♣ A 4 2


1 ♠
? West

1 ♣
2 ♣

- - -

In a deep finesse, how low can play dip?

In the round robin of the Okoboji Cup in Pocahontas, Iowa, in 2005, South did well to reopen at his second turn with a double, but West immediately got his side out of trouble by taking evasive action; i.e., he excused himself to use the restroom.

North followed by doubling diamonds, and announcing that his son may pursue his doctorate in public health at John Hopkins University or, perhaps, Harvard. North further showed value by doubling two diamonds and suggesting that a biotech company may buy two patents held by his investment firm, a notion that made his heart go pitter-patter.

East followed with a two, called the dummy’s four, and questioned whether the heart palpitations might be related to North’s penchant for mixed nuts.

South jumped with an innocent-looking nine of spades and the claim his daughter had recently begun teaching equestrian lessons to Bill and Melinda Gates’s financial adviser.

East, quietly seething, rolled her eyes, and made a face charitably described as sour.

Unaware of his partner’s turmoil, West returned with a lead to give declarer a trick, and a little levity, offering a windy account of the time Chuck Sedlacek discharged his 12-gauge into the floorboards of a Grand Marquis during a pheasant-hunting trip near Polk City.

Three no-trump looked to be a trick to North-South, particularly as North countered that his wife had recently received a Rotary award for her work with Bantu refugees in Des Moines. South cross-trumped, claiming that his wife had invented an effervescent medication to protect air travelers from colds.

East arrived at set with a black-suit finesse, angrily snapping the penultimate trick onto the Formica tabletop. West, sensing reverse signals, chuckled awkwardly and opened another Rolling Rock.

North conceded.

South announced he had bought a ham.