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The Independent Culture
COMPARISON TIME during a team-of-four match can be acutely embarrassing. Instead of attempting to justify your blunders to only one player, you have three critical team-mates to contend with. This deal found South in the hot seat.

"We lost 690 points," started East. "I led a low spade against 3 no-trumps. Sorry! And you?". "We lost 100 points" was the reply. How can you bid a slam missing two aces?" demanded West. "Don't you play Blackwood?" It was not like that at all - North had opened One Club, South responded One Heart, and North rebid 1 no-trumps (showing 15-17 points). No problems so far but, instead of simply raising to 3 no-trumps, South had followed a circuitous route that had eventually landed him in Four Hearts.

West led 22 against the heart game and, after winning in hand, declarer played off !AK on which West played high-low to show a third trump and an interest in ruffing something. Short of a safe quick entry to hand to draw the last trump, he tried 4J from dummy but East pounced with his ace. He was on the brink of returning the expected club when he stopped to think. If his partner held #K, it did not matter whether they took their club ruff now or after cashing two diamonds. But if his partner held only #Q rather than the king, then there would be only a ruff and one diamond to come.

So instead of a club, East switched to a diamond, giving declarer a guess. He got it wrong (otherwise there'd have been no story) and now the defenders came to two diamond tricks, 4A, and a club ruff to collect their 100 points.

Game all; dealer North


4K J

!A K

#J 9 6 3

2K Q 10 8 5

West East

49 7 4 3 2 4A 10 8 6

!J 6 4 !10 3

#Q 7 5 4 #A 8 2

22 29 7 6 3


4Q 5

!Q 9 8 7 5 2

#K 10

2A J 4