Wednesday 27 January 1999
!8 7 4 3
#A K Q 7 4
4Q J 4 410 9 8 7 2
!K 10 9 6 !2
#10 8 3 #J 6 5
2A 5 4 2Q J 9 2
4K 6 3
!A Q J 5
2K 10 6 3
"A CONVERSION JOB, I'm afraid!" remarked South to an inattentive partner after this deal. "What do you mean?" asked a puzzled North. "I successfully converted nine tricks into eight!" was the cheerful reply. As well as possessing a sense of humour, South had been the victim of a rather subtle defence.
North opened One Diamond, South responded One Heart, and North raised to Two Hearts. Now South bid 3 no-trumps to leave North with a close decision. Although he held four-card heart support, his trumps were poor, and his diamond suit a potential source of tricks. In the hope that nine tricks might prove easier than ten, he passed rather than convert to the heart game.
West led 4Q against 3 no-trumps, dummy played low, and East signalled with his 10. Declarer held off but was forced to win the next spade lead on the table. A losing heart finesse followed but, rather than continuing with the obvious spade, West made the subtle switch to #10.
Now consider South's problem. It certainly looked as though an even break in diamonds was unlikely but, as he hoped to make three tricks in hearts (as long as the suit broke 3-2), four diamond tricks would be enough for his contract. Accordingly he allowed #10 to win, catering for the expected 4-2 break in the suit. Now, with an undeserved diamond trick in the bank, West reverted to spades.
Alas, the hearts did not behave, the diamonds had been 3-3 all the time, and South (feeling foolish) had to be content with eight tricks.
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