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The pairs that bid and made Six No-trumps shared the top score, beating those in Six Diamonds, but a surprising number went down. At our table the bidding followed the simple route of 1NT (15-17 points) - 6NT, and West led ]J. The declarers who went off saw things in a simple light - one of two finesses.

However, the best way to maximise chances is to win the spade in dummy and lead a low club towards the queen. Should East have the king and play it, declarer has 12 tricks and there is no need for the heart finesse. If East ducks and [Q wins, declarer abandons clubs and takes the heart finesse. And should it sit with West, as here, declarer has the extra chance of the 10 of clubs falling in three rounds, as it did, and the heart finesse is again avoided. Only when [K is in the West hand and [10 doesn't drop need the heart finesse be taken.

Bridge players are getting older - and younger. When 89-year-old Boris Schapiro won the Senior Paris World Championship (over 55s) last year it proved that if a brain is kept active there need be no mental deterioration. And 9-year-old Clare Evans represented Wales earlier this year in an Under 20s International. With bridge due to make its debut at the 2002 Winter Olympics, it appears to be the game in which all ages can compete on equal terms, and more and more people are now taking it up.

The English Bridge Union is publishing a series of books - good gifts for beginners. The first two are Really Easy Bidding and Really Easy Play in No-Trumps, each priced pounds 9.99 from the EBU, Broadfields, Aylesbury HP19 3BG (01296 397 851).