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The Independent Culture

MANY players remain faithful to rubber bridge, with an occasional teams game, and regard competing in a pairs event as altogether too fussy. "Who cares whether or not the opponents make an extra overtrick in a solid Three No-trumps?" they cry. They must miss a lot of fun!

All roads led to the normal contract of Three No-trumps by South against which West led the jack of diamonds. Now, looking at all four hands, what could possibly go wrong? Both major suits divide 3-3, the ace of spades is well placed, and even the club finesse (although not needed) is right. A completely flat board, you might think, with declarer collecting 11 easy tricks. This result was almost universal, but at one table South came to one trick less. It was not as though he had played particularly badly but he had fallen into a neat trap set by East.

After winning the diamond lead on the table, he led a low spade and East followed with the jack. Declarer won with his king and if, as seemed the case, East had started with either singleton jack or ace-jack alone, the right play to yield three tricks in the suit would be to finesse dummy's eight.

That is what declarer tried, and that is why he managed to make one trick fewer than anyone else to give East-West a well deserved top score. East's ruse is worth noting - at some time in the future it may make all the difference between winning and losing a rubber!