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The Independent Culture
IT WAS the last rubber of the evening - which may explain the wild bidding on this deal. I report the auction as it happened but invite you to find the extremely odd safety play, missed by declarer, that would have allowed them all to go home a lot earlier.

West opened Four Spades and North chose to bid Four No-trumps for take- out. East bid Five Diamonds, although I cannot think why, and South tried Five Hearts. At least five minutes ticked by while the next three players considered their problems and eventually passed.

West led the two of spades against Five Hearts and, on inspecting dummy, declarer asked "You could not see your way to give me Six?" Perhaps savouring his own wit, he failed to notice the significance of the lead. Snorting happily to himself, he discarded a diamond from dummy. East ruffed with the jack of hearts and, as he had not failed to attach some meaning to the lead, played back a club for his partner to ruff. Now another spade promoted the setting trick for East's king of trumps. At this point dummy replied to his partner's earlier question with "No, it seemed cheaper to pass!" And the rubber went on, and on, and on...

Leaving aside the bidding and the by-play, what was the unusual safety play that South had missed? The lead, if he had noticed it, strongly suggested a void in clubs and it was not at all unlikely that East was void in spades. The solution, therefore, is to ruff the opening lead with dummy's ace! Then declarer simply leads a low trump from the table and, no matter how the adverse trumps are divided, now has a guaranteed 11 tricks, losing (at most) two heart tricks.

Game all; dealer West



!A Q 7 6 4

#A J 4

2A J 10 7 5

West East

4K J 9 8 7 6 3 2 4none

!9 !K J

#6 5 3 2 #K Q 10 9 8 7

2none 29 8 6 4 3


4A Q 10 5 4

!10 8 5 3 2


2K Q 2