When I think about ducking plays (tactically refusing a trick), I recall today's deal - one of the most remarkable in bridge literature. The deal is attributed to Swiss expert Jean Besse, but though it is said to have occurred in an international match, I wouldn't be surprised if it was apocryphal. The auction is odd, and Besse's defense is all but incredible.

Besse was East, and against South's precarious four spades, West led the K-A and a third diamond. South ruffed and led the queen of trumps for a finesse, and Besse played low. South then let the jack ride, and - are you ready for this? - Besse played low again!

We can see that declarer could have led to the ace of trumps and claimed an unlikely overtrick. But declarer couldn't see all four hands. He feared that West had held K-7-4-3 of trumps, and then if declarer led a third trump to the ace, West would get in with the king and might cash a diamond.

South saw that he could still make the contract. He could run the clubs, and when West ruffed low, South could win any return and draw West's king of trumps with the ace.

So South started the clubs. On the third club, Besse discarded his last diamond, and West ruffed. West then led a fourth diamond, and declarer discarded a heart from dummy. He was all set to ruff with his ten of trumps, get to dummy with the king of hearts, cash the ace of trumps, and claim. He was no doubt stunned when Besse ruffed the fourth diamond with his concealed king of trumps for down one.