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NORTH-SOUTH did well to reach an excellent game contract on their limited values on this deal, but South spoilt the effect by missing a logical point in the play.

After three passes South opened One Diamond and, after a rather cautious pass by West, North responded One Spade. Dis-tinctly short of reversing values but with good distribution and a hand improved by his partner's response, South rebid Two Hearts. North's next bid of Three Dia-monds might strike you as restrained but, by partnership agreement, this was forcing.

This all led to a final contract of Five Diamonds against which West led [A and East signalled with his queen. South decided there was nothing to the play. He required either the spade finesse to be right or East to hold _A. Accordingly he drew trumps and took a losing spade finesse. Later he lost two hearts and so went one down.

"I could have made that by leading a low spade from dummy," said South. "But why should East be more likely to hold ]K than West?" No reason at all, but he had overlooked something critical. West, who was marked with [AK from play to the first trick, might also hold ]K but could hardly hold _A as well for he had dealt and passed.

So the low spade from dummy was the right way to play the suit. If East has the king, South will obtain two discards on ]AJ, and, if West turns up with ]K, it is certain that East will hold the ace of hearts.

GAME ALL: dealer West


] A J 6 2

_ 6 5 2

+ K Q 8

[ 9 7 2

West East

] 10 8 7 4 ] K 9 5

_ A 10 8 _ J 9 3

+ 4 2 + 6

[ A K 8 6 [ Q J 10 5 4 3


] Q 3

_ K Q 7 4

+ A J 10 9 7 5 3

[ none