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The Independent Culture
TIMES HAVE changed. There used to be fewer players and when newcomers learned, they usually gravitated towards the rubber bridge game, where making the contract is paramount. Today, more and more people are taking up bridge, and once they have completed a course or two they tend to be inducted into Pairs Duplicates, where achieving the best score on the same cards as everyone else holds is the aim. Making +150 on a hand at pairs when the rest of the field is making +140 is worth all the match points, while at rubber bridge or teams-of-four there is no gain. When this hand came up in a local duplicate the final contracts were Three No-trumps, Six Clubs or Six Diamonds. Six Clubs had no play. Six Diamonds was defeated by the 4-1 trump break - unlucky, because it's a good slam. Those in 3NT received a heart lead. Most declarers played on diamonds, for if the suit breaks 3-2, there are 11 tricks. They too were defeated by the 4-1 break.

Only one player made 3NT - for an outright top. He was the rubber bridge aficionado who had been persuaded to play pairs by his house-guest. This declarer won the heart lead and simply cashed the ace and king of clubs, establishing the suit and taking nine tricks, just as he would have done at rubber bridge. And if the clubs had not broken 3-2 he still had time to turn to diamonds.

Game all; dealer South


4A 8 2

!A 7

#Q J 7 6 5 2

2K 8

West East

4J 7 6 4 4Q 10 9

!Q J 10 8 6 !5 4 3 2

#8 #A 10 9 3

2Q 9 3 2J 10


4K 5 3

!K 9

#K 4

2A 7 6 5 4 2