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"YES, YES! I could have defeated that by dropping my king of trumps under declarer's ace." (East clearly thought it less humiliating to admit to his own error than wait for someone else to point it out.) "But I would look foolish if my partner did not hold the queen!"

South opened !1 and went on to game when his partner raised to Three. West led the queen of spades against !4 and declarer held off when East unblocked with his king. He won the spade continuation and took stock. Prospects were not good; the percentage way to play the trump suit was to take two finesses, but he was reluctant to let West gain the lead and cash a spade.

Instead, South started with the ace of trumps at trick 3 and, when nothing happened, continued with three rounds of clubs to eliminate the suit. Then he got off lead with a trump and was pleased to see that not only did the suit divide evenly, but East was left on lead. As a club lead would concede a ruff and discard, East tried a low diamond in the hope that declarer would have a guess to make. With no real option, however, South went in with his queen and was able to claim his contract.

East's analysis was only partly right. If he had indeed dropped his !K under the ace, West would have won the second round of the suit and he'd have had a safe diamond exit. Now, just suppose South held a six-card heart suit; then declarer would have five heart tricks, three clubs and his two aces. The unblocking play in trumps, therefore, could cost at most an overtrick.

Game all; dealer South


47 6 5

!10 9 8 3

#A 8 4

2A Q J

West East

4Q J 10 9 3 4K 8

!Q 4 !K 2

#J 10 6 #K 9 5 3 2

29 6 4 210 8 7 2


4A 4 2

!A J 7 6 5

#Q 7

2K 5 3