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LEADING A singleton against a small slam can be a double-edged weapon: it may strike gold, but on the other hand it may damage partner's holding in the suit. It certainly worked poorly on this deal.

With an awkward choice, South opened Two No-trumps and North explored with Three Clubs. South's response of Three Spades showed a five-card suit (Three Diamonds would have shown an, as yet unspecified, four-card major) and, via Blackwood, North advanced to Six Spades. With his poor hand (hence an increased chance of finding his partner with a vital ace) West could not really be blamed for leading #3 against the slam. Dummy played low, East did his best to mislead by contributing the jack, and declarer won with his king.

On the surface, matters looked easy. South could now draw trumps, lead a diamond to the ace, and follow with the now marked finesse of #9. But declarer could not be sure who, if anyone, held the singleton diamond. He resolved his guess neatly by drawing trumps and leading a low club to the king, which held. Then he played three rounds of hearts and followed with his last trump. Next came #Q and West showed out.

"He fooled me with his false card!" bemoaned declarer in mock consternation. East smirked, but his smirk faded when he was thrown in with his now bare 2A,J,x,x,x and was compelled to lead away from his #10,7.

All very neat, but what a wonderful defence it would have been if West had held 2A and allowed 2K to hold! Then if declarer plays as before, West makes the last three tricks.

Game all; dealer South


4Q 9 3

!K 9 6

#A 8 5 4

2Q 7 4

West East

48 6 4 47 2

!Q 5 4 3 !J 10 8 2

#3 #J 10 7 6

2J 9 6 3 2 2A 10 5


4A K J 10 5

!A 7

#K Q 9 2

2K 8