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"OH DEAR! Oh dear!" was West's comment after this deal. Even his normally impassive partner looked slightly reproachful. West had overlooked an important maxim - that when you have to make a discard, you should choose something that cannot possibly be of value rather than something that might, in however improbable a fashion.

South (playing five-card majors) opened One Spade, and North raised to Two.

East doubled, but South's next bid of Four Spades ended the auction. West led 2J and, when East covered with his queen, he was allowed to hold the trick. Next came two top hearts, on which West petered enthusiastically, followed by a low heart. Declarer ruffed and a disappointed West, who by now had lost any interest in the hand, parted with a small diamond.

Declarer next played off 2A and ruffed his losing club in dummy. In view of East's take-out double (and, indeed, West's disinterested discard) the diamond finesse looked a poor bet. Abandoning that idea, declarer played off four rounds of trumps. Discarding diamonds from dummy. East, who had to retain !K to take care of dummy's jack, was forced to part with a diamond on the last round. Now #A and #K left South with the winning two (he had wittily dropped the three under the ace).

As you can see, if West had parted with a totally useless club at trick four instead of a diamond and his last club on the fourth round of trumps, he would have been left with D6 to win trick 13.