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"COULD WE have done better?" asked West anxiously after an unsuccessful defence on this deal. "Apparently not!" was his partner's double-edged reply.

South opened One Heart, and in view of the part score North raised to Two Hearts in the hope of keeping the opponents out. East, however, still joined in with Two Spades; South pushed on to Three Hearts and all passed.

West found the best lead of [J instead of his partner's suit and this ran round to declarer's queen. One plan was to draw trumps and play West for three or fewer diamonds headed by the king, but South decided to play on diamonds before touching the trumps, and at trick 2 he led +2. West went immediately with his king and continued with [10. Declarer played low from dummy (as East might have started with [A5 alone) but now the defenders were able to take two club tricks, leaving East on lead.

It looked to East that there was probably only one spade trick to come. His partner could conceivably hold a natural trump trick, but it seemed a better bet that he held ]Qx and _10xx. East risked a low spade; to his delight, West did hold the required queen. East leant forward expectantly, waiting for the 13th club which he would trump with _J. As you can see, this would have promoted West's _10 for the setting trick.

Alas, east is still waiting for that vital club, for West woodenly played another spade ruining an elegant defence, and leading to East's final comment.