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"THE EMBANKMENT is full of bridge players who didn't draw trumps" used to be a catch phrase heard around the London bridge clubs.

This hand features an unusual play - total elimination of all the side suits in order to avoid having to make a guess in the trump suit. It would have succeeded if declarer hadn't mistimed the hand.

South played in Five Diamonds after East overcalled North's opening One Heart bid with One Spade. (Yes, he did!) West led the queen of spades, which declarer allowed to hold, and won the spade continuation. Next he took the heart finesse, cashed the ace and ruffed a third in hand. Then he ruffed his spade and played the last heart from the table, on which East discarded a club and South ruffed. His idea was to cash his two top clubs, then exit in the suit. With his last three cards in each hand being three trumps apiece he was bound to take the last three tricks whatever the defenders returned, and whoever held the trump queen.

Alas, he cashed the king of clubs first, then played to the ace, which East ruffed (if he'd done it the other way round, he'd have been home) and he still had to lose a club trick.

South needed to cash his top clubs much earlier, before East had the opportunity to discard on the fourth heart. Then his imaginative play would have succeeded. And if East had followed to the fourth heart? Declarer would have taken the diamond "finesse" by ruffing with any of his intermediate trumps - effectively playing East for the vital queen.

North-South game;

dealer North


48 3

!A Q 8 4

#K 10 8 6

2A 9 5

West East

4Q J 2 4K 10 9 5 4

!K 9 7 3 !J 10 6

#4 #Q 5 3

2Q J 8 7 2 210 3


4A 7 6

!5 2

#A J 9 7 2

2K 6 4