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South missed a chance of a loser-on-loser play that would dramatically have improved his chances on this deal. Instead he had to fall back on the time-honoured alibi of "An unlucky guess, partner!" North courteously refrained from pointing out the winning play.

South opened One Heart (Four Hearts would have been an alternative) and West overcalled with Two Clubs. Playing five-card majors North raised directly to game and all passed.

West led the ace of clubs against Four Hearts, studied the fall of the two, three and four closely, and switched passively to a trump. There looked to be two main chances to declarer. He might be able to establish dummy's diamonds (if West won the third round there would be no problem) - or he might be able to guess successfully in spades.

Neither plan worked out. After drawing the last trump, declarer played three rounds of diamonds. The first bad news came when it was East who won and the sequel was that, when East unblinkingly returned a low spade, declarer misguessed by trying the jack.

Well, what was the possible improvement? After winning the trump switch in dummy, declarer should have led the queen of clubs and discarded a diamond from hand. On lead, West cannot profitably attack spades and there would have been plenty of time to test the diamonds without ever letting East in to give South a guess in spades.

Game all; dealer South


] 8 7

_ Q J 8

+ A K 7 4 3

[ Q 7 2

West East

] Q 9 5 3 ] A 10 6 4 2

_ 6 _ 4 2

+ J 10 + Q 9 6

[ A K 10 9 6 5 [ J 8 3


] K J

_ A K 10 9 7 5 3

+ 8 5 2

[ 4