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"I KNOW it's pairs, but surely it was foolhardy to take the club finesse and jeopardise the contract for the sake of the overtrick, especially when you were lucky enough to escape the diamond lead," remonstrated North. "Even though East passed originally, he could have held the queen of clubs." "No, he couldn't," replied South firmly.

West opened One Diamond. Following two passes, South reopened with One Heart, and the heart game was soon reached.

Against Four Hearts West led 4J, taken by South. Declarer next cashed !A, then 4K, and ruffed a spade in dummy. On a trump to the king, East showed out. Now came the controversial play, the finesse of 2J, followed by dummy's top two clubs, on which South discarded two diamonds. He then ruffed a club back to hand, which West chose to over-ruff, but it makes no difference whether he does so or not, declarer loses just one diamond and one trump trick.

Why was declarer so certain that the club finesse was safe?

"Wasn't it Bob Hamman who said that if God dealt you the ace and king of a suit you were meant to lead it? The A, K, Q and J of diamonds were all missing. If West had held any solid top combination of these honours he would surely have led a diamond rather than that spade.

Therefore he had to have been dealt a holding from which the lead looked unsafe - probably A Q Jx. East is known to have 4 Q and he has room to hold #K for his initial pass. He couldn't hold 2Q as well. And without 2Q West does not have an opening bid."

Game all;

dealer South


46 5

!J 10 4 2

#9 7 2

2A K J 3

West East

4J 10 9 4Q 7 4 3

!Q 9 3 !7

#A Q J 5 #K 8 3

2Q 9 4 210 7 6 5 2


4A K 8 2

!A Q 8 6 5

#10 6 4