The jack-of-clubs opening went to North's king, and Reese, trying to avoid a diamond lead through his king, attempted to make sure that East did not win a trump trick. This he did by leading North's 9, with the intention of letting it ride. The technical soundness of this play is, of course, open to question. At any rate, when East covered with the 10 spot, South was left to wonder whether this was by choice or necessity.
Having won the trick with the king, Reese elected to trump a low club in dummy and lead another trump from North. East showed out, discarding the 4 of clubs, and the hand exploded. The trump lead was ducked to West's 8, and West's club return knocked out declarer's ace. Reese attempted to run hearts, but West trumped the third heart lead. Thereafter South had to lose two diamond tricks and might actually have gone down two tricks if East had not earlier discarded the 4 of clubs.
The winning play, as Reese himself immediately saw, was to play safe against the bad break in trumps by making his second spade lead toward dummy's jack at the third trick. Holding the queen, West could not win more than a single trump trick. Even if the cards were differently placed, with East holding the queen of spades and West the ace of diamonds, dummy's 10-9 of diamonds bolstered South's king so that he could not lose more than two immediate tricks in the diamond suit.
Cleaning up the trump situation before North's hand was shortened with the club ruff, Reese could have made five-odd and put the English into a position where the smallest additional swing would have beaten the Italians and clinched the championship and the right to meet America.
Reese's card-table exploits are so well known that he needs no apology, but it is only fair to point out the role played by fatigue in a contest where each team had to play the almost incredible total of 640 hands.
For the benefit of the carping critic it should be pointed out that this hand came near the close of a round-robin contest which involved 16 matches of 40 deals each. Given his choice, a player might well elect to compete in the Grand National Steeplechase, which, to this observer, seems to be run over a slightly less grueling course.