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WHEN I was given just the North-South hands to play, I was told that a very distinguished declarer had contrived to go down in Three No- trumps after a heart lead. So I was on the look-out for traps.

I was not given the bidding (perhaps it went 1#-22; 32-34; Three No-trumps- pass) but West led !J against Three No-trumps. This meant that there were seven top winners and excellent chances of developing at least two more. With the advantage of seeing all four hands it is clear that a winning diamond finesse can be taken at trick two and then a spade trick established.

The problem is that if the finesse of #J loses to a singleton king, the defenders will clear the hearts and, with only two diamond tricks to come, it will be too late to do anything in spades. Apparently declarer visualised this possibility and correctly led a diamond at trick two. There was no singleton king and he continued with a low diamond from the table.

He would have been home if either suit had broken 3-2 or if East had held the missing king, but you can see what happened here: East showed out on the diamond lead and, with only two tricks to come from the suit and no time, South ended with only eight tricks.

There was a perfect safety play available, guaranteeing the contract against any distribution. Cash #A, fine, but come back to hand with a club before leading a second diamond towards the jack. What can happen? Only 4-1 breaks are a problem. If (as the cards lie) West still had #K,10,8 he cannot take his king without letting declarer make three tricks in the suit. Then there will be time for a spade trick. And, if East should hold all the missing diamonds, he can take the jack with his king but now there is a marked finesse of #9 available.

Game all; dealer South


4K Q 4

!7 3

#A J 5 2

2K Q 7 3

West East

4J 7 3 4A 10 9 8

!J 10 9 2 !K 8 6 5 4

#K 10 8 7 #6

210 6 28 5 2


46 5 2

!A Q

#Q 9 4 3

2A J 9 4