BRIDGE

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The Independent Culture
When I was young, we used to regard 33 points as necessary for two balanced hands to have a sporting chance of making 6NT. At least we could be sure that there were not two aces (eight points) missing!

After a long and scientific auction, North-South wandered into 6NT on this deal. At one point they had been in Six Diamonds - which would have offered more play (if everything had broken well, two clubs could be discarded on the top hearts and the clubs established with one ruff for a spade discard), but the lure of the extra points in a pairs contest proved too much.

West led the three of hearts against Six No-trumps and, after winning, declarer cashed five rounds of diamonds, discarding a club and a spade from hand while the defenders threw hearts. There were, so far, no clues as to which defender might hold the doubleton ace of clubs, and it looked natural, with the lead in dummy, to play a club to the king and ace. West led another heart (a club would have been more purposeful) and, after cashing his winners in the major suits, it seemed clear that West was left with two clubs, and East with a spade and a club. Unless East had mindlessly petered from an original holding of [10x, the position was clear, and declarer dropped East's jack to claim his ill-gotten gains.

How could West have improved the defenders' chances? By ducking the king of clubs smoothly and playing low on the next club lead as well! South would have been hard-pushed to get the position right then.

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