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The Independent Culture
"I COULDN'T do anything against that heart break!" complained South after going down in what was an excellent slam on this deal. He did not convince his partner who, however, politely refrained from suggesting a neat, and successful, improvement on South's play.

Playing a version of Benjaminised Acol, North opened 22 - not his strongest opening, which would have been #2, but strongly invitational to game. South relayed with #2, West overcalled with 23, and North showed his hearts. Now South showed his spades and North became excited. He began with a cue bid of 24 and, on hearing a response of #4, contemplated a grand slam but settled for 46. West led 2K against the slam and, after winning, declarer drew trumps and played off !A and !K. All he needed, he had decided, was to find the hearts no worse than 4-2 with an overtrick in sight if they broke evenly. The division itself proved a killer; with no trace of an end-play, the contract failed.

Well, what was it that North had in mind? After West's overcall it was unlikely that he held five hearts but East might well have done. Instead of cashing the second top heart, declarer should have led a low heart to his nine! This gives up the chance of an overtrick but, if the suit is no worse than 4-2, it is easy to arrange for two diamond discards. As the cards lie, East wins with his !10 and West shows out. The key thing now is that one losing diamond goes on the remaining top heart and a marked ruffing finesse with !J 8 against East's !Q 7 establishes another discard.

Game all; dealer North


4A K Q 7

!A K J 8 2

#7 6 3


West East

48 3 44

!4 !Q 10 7 6 5

#Q 10 8 2 #K 9 5

2K Q J 8 6 2 210 7 4 3


4J 10 9 6 5 2

!9 3

#A J 4

29 5