Bridge

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The Independent Culture
WITH THE vulnerability in your favour, would you make the same slightly off-beat pre-empt that North chose first in hand on this deal? Hearing Three Diamonds and a pass by East, South heaved an inward sigh and tried his luck with 3 no-trumps. All passed, West led 4Q, and South brightened up - it appeared that he had done the right thing.

It all looked straightforward and, after winning with 4A, South continued with the ace and another diamond. It was bad news when West showed out - now nothing could be done, and South ended with only six tricks.

It was a reasonable enough punt on South's part but he did not give himself the best chance. Clearly he hoped for a 3-2 diamond break but there was really no rush to test the suit. It was quite possible that the clubs might provide four tricks in the event of a bad diamond break, but the suit had to be played first for, after testing the diamonds, even finding 2KQ doubleton would not help as the suit would be blocked after a spade return.

South's best bet would have been to try a low club from hand at trick 2, keeping the diamonds in reserve, and hoping that West held 2K10 or 2Q10 (or, indeed, that 2KQ were doubleton in either hand). As the cards lie, West would have had a problem. If he goes in with his king and continues spades, the diamonds can be tested and, when they turn sour, 2J can be led and run to pin his ten. And if West tries 210 on the first round, dummy's jack loses to the queen and his king falls on the next round.

Finally, if nothing happens on the club lead, there is still the diamond suit. It is worth noting that, with this holding in clubs, the first lead should be from hand.

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