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ON THIS hand from rubber bridge, declarer, seeing a familiar suit combination in dummy once the opening lead was made, instinctively played low. If he had paused for thought, he would soon have appreciated that on this occasion the "regulation" play was the wrong one.

South opened 1NT (12-14 points); North raised to 2NT, and with his maximum, South bid game.

West led the eight of diamonds against Three No-trumps. With only one high card in his own hand he, not unreasonably, hoped to find his partner's long suit by leading his shortest, East being marked with about 12 points, and therefore more entries, on the bidding.

With barely a glance at dummy, declarer played D9. East won with DQ and promptly switched to the queen of hearts. South ducked, won the continuation, then played a club. West went in with his king and returned a third heart to clear the suit. Declarer played another club, hoping that West held both the ace and king and only three hearts, but East won and cashed his heart to defeat the contract.

Declarer should have appreciated that a heart switch would give his opponents a vital tempo. The lead of D8 was also worth a second glance - it certainly couldn't be the standard fourth-highest-of-longest-suit. Had he played dummy's ace of diamonds on the lead, he would have had the time to establish two club tricks before the defence set up heart tricks; his diamond holding meant that he needed only lose two tricks in that suit.

Love all;

dealer South


4K 7 4

!K 6 5

#A J 10 9

29 5 2

West East

48 5 3 2 410 6

!8 4 3 2 !Q J 10 9

#8 5 #K Q 7 2

2K 8 7 2A 4 3


4A Q J 9

!A 7

#6 4 3

2Q J 10 6