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East-West game;

Game all;

dealer South


4K 10 9 7

!A 8 5

#8 6 2

27 4 2

West East

43 2 4A J 6 5 4

!J 9 6 !Q 10 7 4

#J 10 9 5 3 #void

2Q 9 5 2J 10 6 3


4Q 8

!K 3 2

#A K Q 7 4

2A K 8

MY HUSBAND Alan tended to thrust bridge diagrams at me, often at inopportune moments, asking how I'd play the specified contract. This was one such hand but, of course, I was shown only the North-South cards.

"You're in Three No-trumps and West leads the jack of diamonds, on which East discards a small spade," he said. "So how do you play?"

At first glance, the problem seemed too easy. There are seven top tricks and the spade suit will always provide the other two.

"I win the lead in hand and play the queen of sp... Wait a moment. If I play the queen of spades and East has the guarded ace and jack he may well hold off the first trick.

"Now, when I follow with the spade eight to dummy's nine, only then will he take his jack and exit in clubs or hearts. I haven't yet established my second spade trick, and I've only one entry to dummy.

"Therefore I must play the eight of spades at trick two and let it run if it's not covered with the jack.

"Should the eight hold, then I can play the queen, and if that loses I have the ace of hearts in dummy as the entry to the established spade king.

"Finally, should the eight lose to East's jack I can win any return in hand and play my queen of spades, overtaking with the king and I've again got the ace of hearts as an entry to the two established spades."