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It Is often a good idea to hold up high cards in defence but - as West found out on this deal - not always. South opened One No-trump (14-16 points) and North raised directly to 3NT.

West led the six of diamonds to the three, nine and queen. A heart finesse lost to East's queen and the four of diamonds came back, covered by South's King. West held off, hoping that his partner held the missing two; but, after the next heart finesse had lost to East, West was disappointed when it was a club that was returned.

Worse was to follow - declarer won in hand, finessed the queen of spades successfully, and cashed dummy's two winning hearts, throwing a club from hand. Now a second top club reduced West to ]K10, +A8, and he was thrown in with a diamond. He could take his two tricks in the suit, but then had to lead away from the king of spades to give South his contract.

West would have defeated the contract if he had taken his ace of diamonds on the second round and cleared the suit. Perhaps the vital clue that he missed was that with the (hoped for) +942, East would almost certainly have played the two at trick one - the nine could hardly help and it would have been more important to give his partner a count.