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THIS proved a trappy hand for both sides in a recent pairs event. South opened One Diamond and West doubled. Nowadays most players would develop the North hand naturally with Two Clubs, but this North was of the old school and felt bound to show his points by redoubling. East jumped pre-emptively to Two Spades and South rebid his diamonds. After a pass by West, North did well to try Four Diamonds (rather than 3NT, which would fail after a Spade lead); South went on to game.

West led [Q against Five Diamonds and South decided that his only hope of success lay in finding the missing clubs 3-3 and the trumps 2-2 . Declarer duly won the club lead and cashed a second top club. But when East showed out on the next round, it was all over; South lost two hearts and a spade to go one off and equal the scores of the pairs who had tried 3NT.

It is true that South's line of play, if it had succeeded, would have brought 12 tricks, but he was in Five Diamonds, not Six. Having escaped a heart lead (or one round of spades, then a heart switch), he had a much better chance. All he needed was the vital 2-2 trump break, but he could have coped with 4-2 clubs as well. The solution: duck the first club! When in with _A, he crosses to a top club and ruffs a club high in hand. Then two rounds of trumps, ending in dummy, let him enjoy two more club tricks and discard both losing hearts.