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SOUTH bemoaned his bad luck on this deal but he escaped a far more damaging lead and missed the neat safety play that would have ensured his contract against any distribution.

South opened One Spade and North forced with Three Clubs. Yes, he held only thirteen points, but the hand had enormous potential. South rebid his spades and North continued with 4NT (Roman Key Card Blackwood). The response of Five Spades showed two of the five aces and the queen of the implicitly agreed trump suit, spades. Now North made a grand slam try with 5NT but, with nothing extra to show, South put on the brakes with Six Spades. West led the king of diamonds against the slam and, without a heart lead, declarer was quietly confident. He won, drew trumps, and finessed the queen of trumps. This lost to the king and a heart came back. After winning on the table, declarer continued with CA. It was all over.

The club suit was an interesting one, with a perfect play available. After drawing trumps, declarer should play off the ace of clubs! (Yes, I know that the king drops, but that was not the point of the play.) Suppose nothing happens - South comes to hand with a trump and leads the nine. If West follows low, it is run and a long trump can be established by ruffing. If West shows out, the nine is run to East's jack and, later, a marked ruffing finesse can be taken against East's king.

It is worth noting that running the nine on the first round of the suit (although it works here) may lead to a guess later if, for example, East wins with a singleton jack.