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"I TRIED for a squeeze but it didn't work," explained South after going down in his slam on this deal. "You see, I couldn't afford to duck the first spade to correct the timing." This was certainly true, but there was a perfectly reasonable (and successful) alternative line of play.

South opened Two Hearts and West overcalled with Two Spades. North raised to Four Hearts, suggesting fair values but no first-round controls, and South went on to Six Hearts.

West led the king of spades against the slam and declarer was forced to win to avoid an immediate ruff and defeat. There were only 11 top winners and, in the forlorn hope that "something might turn up", he reeled off his trumps. The defenders had no problems and, in the fullness of time, came to their two tricks.

The fact that spades were 5-1 should have been to declarer's advantage. If East indeed has the expected singleton, all that is necessary is to find him with at least four clubs.

Suppose that after drawing trumps in two rounds with the ace and jack, declarer cashed his two top diamonds and follows with the ace, king, and a club ruff - exposing the position in the suit. He crosses to one of dummy's remaining two trumps and leads the last club, on which he discards a spade. This leaves East on lead with only minor suit cards, and he is forced to concede a ruff and discard, allowing South's last spade to go away.