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NORTH-SOUTH would have done better to take a sure (and substantial!) penalty when it was offered on this deal, but apparently their methods did not allow this possibility and they went for their vulnerable game. They held 27 points between them but - it seemed - only eight tricks.

South opened 1NT (14-16 points) and West overcalled with Two Clubs, showing the major suits. North doubled, East and South passed, and West re-doubled. East tried a confident-sounding Two Spades but, instead of doubling, North went to 3NT against which West led the jack of spades.

Although the spade finesse succeeded, kindly breaks in any department looked unlikely. Perhaps some sort of squeeze for the ninth trick, south thought. Well, a few tricks had to be lost first before the timing would be right so, after winning with the queen of spades, he led a low diamond from the table. There was, he supposed, the outside chance of West holding +QJ10 alone.

West did not have the required holding, but South's play had an unexpected side-effect when East mistakenly went in with his queen of diamonds in order to return a spade. Now, with +J10 coming down, the diamonds marched for three tricks.

As East explained afterwards, he would have been right to play as he did if South had started with +Jx - but his alibi did not really hold water, for South would still have three diamond tricks.