BRIDGE

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The Independent Culture
THIS DEAL was played some 30 years ago and, at the time, everyone agreed that West had been faced with a complete guess. If the hand had been played today, I am sure that the result would have been different.

First, the original story. South opened 2NT, North raised to 3NT, and West led the seven of spades to the three, 10 and king. There are eight tricks on top and the contract seemed to depend on the diamond finesse. Concealing his heart length, declarer led the 10 of hearts to dummy's jack and ran the jack of diamonds to the king. From West's point of view, South might have started with ]KQx when another spade lead could well give declarer his ninth trick. So West switched to a club, hoping that his partner held an entry. Now declarer had 10 tricks.

Let us advance in time - firstly, North might well have enquired for four or five card majors by bidding Three Clubs over 2NT - this would have led to a contract of Four Hearts which, although defeated on best defence, might easily scramble home.

Secondly, this was before the days of Smith peters, so East could not suggest with the first diamond that he played whether or not he liked his partner's opening lead. Thirdly, technique has improved - against 3NT East will contribute the jack, not the 10, to the first trick. Then West will know that it is safe to lead another low spade for, from his point of view, either his partner holds the queen or declarer still has the queen and 10.

GAME ALL: dealer South

North

] 4 3

_ K J 9

+ J 10 6 4

[ 9 8 6 2

West East

] A 9 8 7 5 ] Q J 10

_ 8 7 4 _ 6 5

+ K 7 + 9 8 5 2

[ 10 4 3 [ K Q 7 5

South

] K 6 2

_ A Q 10 3 2

+ A Q 3

[ A J

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