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The Independent Culture
IF YOU look at all four hands on this deal, it seems impossible to find a play that could persuade South's opponents to drop a trick in defence against Four Spades, a contract which, it seems certain, has four sure losers. Give up? Well read on:

East opened One Heart, South overcalled with One Spade, and West raised his partner to Two Hearts. North bid a firm Four Spades and, although Five Hearts might have proved relatively cheap, East judged well in deciding to defend. Against Four Spades, West started with the ace and another heart and declarer ruffed the third round.

Losing to 4A was inescapable and there were insufficient entries to eliminate the clubs, cash the top diamonds, and exit with a trump (hoping for the singleton 4A with only two diamonds). South found an interesting, and not at all obvious shot when he crossed to 2A - the key play - before leading 4J. East won with his ace and stopped to think.

Why should declarer have crossed to dummy before leading trumps? Was it possible that he was missing 4Q as well as 4A? If so, then West held the missing queen and it was now bare. In order to promote a trick for his partner's supposed queen, East led a fourth round of hearts. Gratefully, declarer discarded his losing diamond and was able to claim.

It really is difficult to blame East for this debacle: it could only have happened to a thoughtful player. I suppose that the only consolation is that you do not meet many Souths who would even think of playing 2A before touching trumps.