Bridge

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The Independent Culture
HAVING GONE down, albeit unluckily, in his contract of Four Hearts on this deal, declarer asked his partner how he would have tackled the hand. "Differently!" was North's succinct reply. Can you see what he had in mind?

Playing five-card majors, South opened One Heart and North bid his hand to the limit by raising pre-emptively to game. South even considered going on but he passed and West led #K against Four Hearts. A cross-ruff was a possibility, but dummy's spades offered a tempting alternative and declarer, after discarding a club from dummy, won with #A and followed with the ace and another spade.

While West discarded a club, East won and forced dummy with another diamond lead, effectively shutting off the spade suit. Now, no matter what South tried, there was no way to avoid four losers. If he attempted to ruff his losing diamonds in dummy, West would come to !J and, equally, the long spades could no longer be brought in as West now held more trumps than dummy.

When pressed, dummy amplified his cryptic remark. His suggestion (which seems to work) was to discard a spade, not a club, from the table at trick 1 and follow with a club lead. Now the defenders are helpless - even if West wins and switches to a trump, there are still 10 tricks on a cross- ruff.

Was there a case, I wonder, for the seemingly suicidal opening lead of a trump from the West hand? - a brief analysis suggests that this, followed by careful defence, leads to the defeat of the contract whatever declarer tries.

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