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"YOU NEEDED the nine of clubs instead of the eight!" observed South after converting a small plus score into a small minus on this deal. North tactfully refrained from suggesting that an alternative line of play would have justified his partner's decision to bid on...

South opened One Heart, West doubled, and North redoubled - not everyone's choice of bid. East bid Three Diamonds pre-emptively and South, expecting his partner to be short in hearts, tried Four Diamonds (although what this was intended to achieve is still a mystery to me) but he was reassured when North was able to bid Four Hearts. It was not over yet - East tried what would have been a good sacrifice with Five Diamonds, but South went on to Five Hearts to end the auction.

West started with two top diamonds and, after ruffing, declarer drew trumps and tested the spades with the king and ace. When they failed to break (surprise, surprise!) he led 2Q to West's ace. West exited with 2J to dummy's king and now declarer ruffed dummy's last diamond and played off his last trump. West retained his spade guard and East was able to look after the third round of clubs with his nine, and so South ended a trick short.

Rather than rely on what was an unlikely spade break (with some residual squeeze chances), South had an alternative which would have succeeded as the cards lay. Suppose, after drawing trumps, he leads 210 from hand? West presumably covers with his jack and 2K wins. Now a spade to the ace drops the nine from East and South plays off his remaining trumps. West must come down to 4J 10 7 2A and now he can be thrown in with 2A to lead away from his spades.

North-South game;

dealer South


4K 8 5 3

!Q J 6

#7 6 5

2K 8 3

West East

4J 10 7 2 49

!8 !9 5 2

#A K 4 #Q J 10 9 3 2

2A J 7 6 4 29 5 2


4A Q 6 4

!A K 10 7 4 3


2Q 10