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NEITHER pair of the eventual winning team shone on this early board from a Gold Cup match, but there was a certain symmetry about their results that afforded the onlookers considerable amusement.

The auction was the same at both tables. South opened One Diamond, North responded One Heart and East overcalled with One Spade. South rebid his diamonds, North explored with Two Spades, and raised his partner's next bid of Two No-trumps to game.

West, who has had been strangely silent throughout, led the seven of spades. The winning defence is for East to win and switch to a low heart, but at one table East cashed his second top spade before trying a heart.

South won and led a low diamond from hand. Now, whatever they tried, the defenders could only come to four tricks and, as a result, conceded 600 points.

At the other table East made a remarkable play at trick 1 he followed suit with the eight of spades] apparently consigning the rest of his hand to the waste-paper basket. (It came to light later that he had sorted a spade among his clubs.) To declarer it seemed certain that East had ducked with a five-card suit and so, whoever held the ace of clubs, the defenders could take five tricks when they got in. There was only one chance, he decided, and, throwing caution to the winds, he overtook his king of hearts in dummy and essayed the diamond finesse.

The roof fell in. West won with his king, put his partner in with the ten of hearts to cash his five spade winners, and still had three more tricks to come. Six down vulnerable meant another loss of 600 points]