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YES, ANOTHER hard luck story... I was buttonholed by an aggrieved South who insisted on giving me the full story of his elegant play in a pairs competition.

West opened One Club and, after two passes, South protected with One Heart. West tried One Spade, North bid 2NT and South wisely, he thought, went back to hearts.

He felt that there might be real danger ahead in no trumps if his partner held only a singleton heart. All passed and West led 2A against Three Hearts.

On the bidding it seemed likely that both 4K and #K were well placed but, even if the heart finesse was right as well, it looked like only nine tricks. In case West held !Q, however, declarer ruffed in hand, finessed 4Q, and ruffed another club.

Then came a diamond finesse, a fourth club ruff and #A. Now nine tricks were assured but declarer looked further ahead. He took yet another club ruff with his now bare !A and got off lead with a diamond. East, now down to trumps alone, was forced to ruff and concede a 10th trick to dummy's !8 (it would not have helped if West had ruffed in from of dummy with !6 for again, with a good guess, dummy's !85 still provides another trick.)

I offered my congratulations on what looked like a well played top score but was soon disillusioned. At several tables, after a similar start, North had hoggishly persisted with 3NT over Three Hearts and, with every finesse in sight right for him, had come to nine or even 10 tricks...

Game all; dealer South


4A Q 5

!8 5

#A Q 7

2J 9 6 5 3

West East

4K 10 9 3 4J 8

!7 6 !Q 4 3 2

#K J #10 8 4 2

2A K Q 8 4 210 7 2


47 6 4 2

!A K J 10 9

#9 6 5 3