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EXPLAINING A poor set to your team-mates at comparison time is somewhat of a delicate business. I am always worried when I hear those cries of "I'm afraid our card needs a little help!" or, more dramatically but more honestly, "We've had three bad boards" (followed by a short pause) "and five disasters!"

The result on this deal also required some explanation. After a hit-or- miss auction, our opponents played the North-South cards in Six No-trumps. We did not lead a diamond, the clubs broke two-two, and declarer had plenty of tricks. We anticipated the possible loss of an overtrick when we revealed our loss of 1,470 points.

"I'm afraid that we played it in clubs and they cashed the ace of diamonds at trick one," was the reply. "Nothing serious," I observed. "That's only three imps away." "Slightly more, I'm afraid," volunteered a guilty-looking South. "We lost 100 points."

There was a stunned silence, broken by one of our third pair (who was possibly still aggrieved at being "rested"). "Haven't you ever heard of Blackwood?" he said. "Yes, we used it and stopped in Six. However, I went and misguessed the trumps."

We studied the hand again - what was he talking about? Finally we extracted the full story. The final contract had indeed been Six Clubs played by South, and West had started by cashing the ace of diamonds. At trick two, however, he had found the baffling but (as it turned out) brilliant switch to the four of clubs!

This went to the queen and king, and suddenly South (who, a moment ago, could not possibly have gone wrong in the suit) had a losing option.

Had West, for reasons of his own, switched to a singleton trump and in so doing set the stage for South to pick up the suit without loss?

As you will have almost certainly guessed by now, declarer had, of course, finessed the 10 on the second round of the suit...

Game all;

dealer South


4A K J 10 5

!A K 7 4 2


27 3

West East

44 2 4Q 8 7 6 3

!8 5 3 !J 10 9

#A 10 8 7 5 3 #9 6 2

2J 4 2Q 9



!Q 6

#K Q 4

2A K 10 8 6 5 2