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AS DECLARER, South failed to apply logic to his problems in his game contract on this deal. Certainly he played with the percentages in the trump suit, but only if he had considered the suit in abstraction. The background of the rest of the hand should have led him to think more clearly.

After three passes South opened One Spade and, after another pass from West, North raised to Two Spades. South made a try for the spade game by bidding Three Clubs and, with what looked suitable cards, North accepted. West led #A against Four Spades and, when his partner signalled with the nine, continued with the king.

Declarer ruffed and, with 10 cards in the trump suit, "played the odds" by finessing against the king. When this lost and West proved to hold 2A, it was all over and left South regretting that he had advanced beyond a part-score.

I hinted that clearer thinking should have taken more part in South's play. Consider it this way: West had passed as dealer and had shown up with #A and #K. If the trump finesse was right, then (without doubt) it had to be East who held 2A and, with only one club loser, there would be 11 tricks.

Therefore declarer could have given himself the extra chance of playing the ace on the first round of trumps. If, as a result of not taking the finesse, West later scores with his king, there will be only one club loser and the contract will be safe.

You can see the benefits of putting up the ace on the first round of trumps...

East-West game;

dealer West


4A 10 9 5

!Q J 2

#10 5 3 2

28 6

West East

47 4 4K

!9 7 4 !10 8 6 5 3

#A K 7 4 #J 9 8 6

2A 7 3 2 2Q J 4


4Q J 8 6 3 2

!A K


2K 10 9 5