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THIS DEAL, from the Macallan Invitational Pairs played earlier this year, led to intricate play when the eventual winners, Geir Helgemo and Tor Helness of Norway, met the runners-up, Nicola Smith and Pat Davies of Britain. Smith, as South, opened 2NT, and Davies explored with Three Clubs in the hope of finding a spade fit. She was disappointed, however, and the final contract was 3NT.

West led a low heart and the jack lost to the king. He won the diamond lead and slipped slightly by leading a second heart, allowing declarer to score with the nine while dummy parted with a club. When he won the next diamond lead, however, he switched to a club, and South won the nine with her queen.

Suddenly there was a problem. Who held the king of spades? If it was East, another diamond lead would allow him to establish his remaining clubs and cash them when he got in with the king of spades. On the other hand, if it was West who held the missing king, then a third diamond would establish dummy's ten with the spades offering a now safe entry to the table.

Decisions, decisions! Eventually (perhaps in view of West's failure to overcall) South decided to play East for the critical card. So she led a low spade from hand to dummy's nine. This held; no surprise, for it would surely be ducked, whoever held the king. But now a spade finesse failed when West turned up with the king and, eventually, declarer lost the last two tricks.