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THERE WAS an amusing side to this deal from a recent rubber, but poor West was unable to appreciate the joke.

North opened One Club, South responded One Diamond, and North rebid One Heart. There was a case for an immediate no-trump bid by South at this point but, he reasoned, partner could still hold four spades and so he explored with One Spade. Completing the picture of his distribution, North raised to Two Spades and now South tried 2NT.

As the One Spade bid was "fourth suit" and may not have been genuine, North raised to Three No-trumps. When this came to West, he judged (rightly) that the cards were lying badly for North-South and he doubled. This would have been a successful move - South would have had to play well to get a seventh trick and escape for a 500-point penalty but, as he was confident that his partner held four card spade support, South retreated to Four Spades. West doubled again.

West led the five of clubs against Four Spades doubled and, from declarer's point of view, the hand played itself. After winning with dummy's ace, he played off three rounds of hearts to discard his losing club. He continued with the ace of diamonds and took the next four tricks by cross-ruffing clubs and diamonds. This gave him nine tricks and, after he had exited with dummy's last heart, West was forced to ruff and concede a trick to declarer's king of spades.

"Never mind, partner," said East consolingly. "At least we can claim 100 for honours!"