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There were a number of interesting points on this deal from a pairs competition - too many, in fact, to be dealt with in one article. So, when you see the same hand next week, do not be puzzled!

The bidding started in the same way at most tables - South opened One Spade, North raised to Two Spades, and South rebid Three No-trumps. Some Norths passed this (and we will follow the fortunes of the declarers in Three No-trumps in our next instalment), others - if playing a five card major system - went back to Four Spades.

The singleton diamond was a natural choice of lead against the spade game and East, easily able to read the lead, took his ace. A diamond return was duly ruffed but that was effectively the end of the defence. When East got in with his ace of trumps he returned a heart but declarer was able to win with his ace, draw any remaining trumps, and discard the rest of his losers on the established diamonds.

A more far-sighted East would have realised that, after his rebid in no-trumps, South was almost certain to hold just five spades. This meant West held two and there was no rush to give him his ruff. Instead, a return of a heart at trick 2 would have developed a fourth trick for the defence with the diamond ruff to be taken later. Not many East players could resist the immediate ruff of one of declarer's winners. As for Three No trumps - watch this space!

Game all; dealer South


] K 8 3

_ 8 5 2

+ K 10 9 8 6 2

[ 3

West East

] 7 5 ] A 9 4

_ K 9 6 4 _ 10 7 3

+ 4 + A 7 3

[ J 10 9 7 5 2 [ K 8 6 4


] Q J 10 6 2

_ A Q J

+ Q J 5

[ A Q