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Love all; dealer South


4A 8

!A Q 7 2

#J 5

2A 9 4 3 2

West East

4J 10 9 2 4Q 7 6 5 3

!10 8 6 4 !9 5

#A Q 7 6 #8 2

26 2Q 10 8 7


4K 4

!K J 3

#K 10 9 4 3

2K J 5

"MY LAST train leaves at 11.48pm," East volunteered helpfully, during an interminable trance by declarer over his play to trick one on this early evening deal. Very witty, but South had something to think about. There were a variety of ways in which to tackle the hand, but he finally arrived at the best solution.

South opened One No-trump (12-14 points) and, after a fruitless Stayman enquiry by North, ended in Three No-trumps against which West led 4J. Yes, there were adequate values and eight top tricks, but what was the best bet for a ninth? Thinking clearly, South finally won the opening lead in hand and cashed 2K. When both opponents followed suit, he knew that he was home. Irrespective of the distribution of the outstanding clubs, he could now guarantee four tricks in the suit, even if it was at the expense of one of his heart winners.

At trick three, declarer led a low heart to the queen, blocking the suit, and continued with a low club towards his jack. If West held all the missing clubs and took his queen, the rest of the suit could be picked up with a marked finesse. As it was, East went in with 2Q and returned a spade, Declarer won on the table, cashed 2J and, after overtaking a heart honour in dummy, was able to collect two more club tricks and his contract. As you can see, he ended with only three of his apparently certain four heart tricks.

I would hate to meet this hand in a pairs contest where overtricks are important. I am quite sure that, trying for the maximum, I would go down.