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"WHAT DID you do on Board 20?" asked an excited colleague at the half-way stage of a recent pairs event. I recognised the symptoms instantly - he must have found a clever play on the board and felt that there was a danger of its being overlooked by the press. "We played in 3 no-trumps and made 11 tricks after a club lead and a silly defence," I replied. His face fell, but then he brightened up. "I was the only declarer to make Four Hearts!" So I had to ask...

At both of our tables East had opened One Diamond and South had overcalled with One Heart. As North I had suggested no-trumps and had been realised to game, but my friend's partner had followed a different route that had led to the heart game. West led #7 against Four Hearts and, after taking his king and ace, East led a third round. This set declarer problems for, with 4A almost certainly marked with East, he needed three spade discards from hand and one of his potential diamond winners had just been killed.

I had to admit that his solution was elegant. With only two spade discards to come, he now needed the club finesse as well. But this needed two entries to dummy without using 2K, so declarer ruffed the third round of diamonds high and followed with a finesse of !9! This went well and so did the finesse of 2J that followed.

Now it was plain sailing - declarer cashed 2A and drew the remaining trumps with the ace and king. Now 2K and the two remaining diamonds provided enough tricks for the contract. It is worth noting that it was better odds to try the finesse of !9 for the required extra entry rather than hope for the ten to fall doubleton.