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THE FULL orchestra struck upon this hand. North opened One Club, East overcalled with One Heart, South bid Two Diamonds, West supported hearts and North tried Three No-trumps, on the basis that his partner was likely to have something in the spade suit for his two-level bid. East bid Four Hearts - which makes - but North was still there and made the good bid of Five Diamonds to conclude the auction.

The pity was that North's bidding judgement was not matched by South's play technique.

West led the king of hearts and South saw things in a simple light. The contract should make if either the king of clubs was with West or the ace of spades with East. Therefore he captured the heart lead with dummy's ace, came to hand with a trump and immediately finessed in clubs. When the jack lost to the king East fired back the queen of spades, so the contract went down.

The mistake declarer made was to choose odds of evens, over odds of two- to-one on. All else being equal, a finesse has a 50 per cent chance of success. But the percentage chance of a suit breaking 3-2 is around 68 per cent.

Therefore, if declarer had ducked the king of hearts lead, no continuation by West could have harmed him. If West switches to a club, South simply rises with dummy's ace and now cashes the ace of hearts on which he discards his second club from hand, then ruffs a club. He enters dummy with a trump and ruffs another club to establish the suit, then completes the drawing of trumps, ending in dummy. Now he discards three of his spades on the good clubs, finally just giving up a spade.

North-South game; dealer North

] 5 3

_ A 7

+ Q J 10

[ A Q J 8 6 2

] A 9 8 2

_ K Q 5 3

+ 5 3 2

[ 7 4

] Q J 10

_ J 10 9 6 4 2

+ 4

[ K 10 9

] K 7 6 4

_ 8

+ A K 9 8 7 6

[ 5 3