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"Pause for planning trick one, before touching a card from dummy." That's the axiom bridge teachers try to instil in their pupils. If South had adopted this principle he might have brought home his contract of 3NT.

South opened One Club, was raised to two by North, and East came in with Two Spades. South elected to bid the vulnerable No-trump game rather than take a penalty.

West led ]7, dummy played ]2 and East allowed South to win the trick with ]J. Now the contract was destined to fail. Declarer tried to sneak an entry to dummy in order to take the club finesse by leading _J. But West was on the ball and hopped up smartly with _A to play his spade for East to run the suit.

Now try playing dummy's ]10 at trick one. If East ducks, declarer is in dummy and can take an immediate club finesse. And if East cashes his top spades he has no further entry to his hand and South can engineer an entry to dummy with _K for the club finesse. If East cashed his top spades, South has little choice but to play for West to hold the ace of hearts and so, when in dummy with _K, can afford to play East for Kxx in clubs by leading [10, thereby blocking the suit.

But should East allow the 10 of spades to hold at trick one, South must play East specifically for Kx in clubs by finessing the queen, cashing the ace, thereby leaving an entry to dummy with [10 in order to cash the queen of diamonds, having first cashed the ace and king.

North-South game; dealer South

] 10 2

_ K 5 4

+ Q J 2

[ 10 9 8 4 2


] 7 3

_ A 9 8 3

+ 10 9 8 5 3

[ 6 5


] J 6 5 4

_ Q J 10

+ A K

[ A Q J 7


] A K Q 9 8

_ 7 6 2

+ 7 6 4

[ K 3