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"I suppose that at the expert level, the players make very few mistakes," writes a correspondent. Well, I don't know about that - consider this deal.

South opened with a conventional Two Clubs. West joined in with Two Hearts and (after a pass by North) East raised pre-emptively to Four Hearts.

A little committed now, South showed his spades and North raised to Five. I suppose that it should be considered that the the first mistake occurred when South went on to Six - the slam would have had no chance against a trump leaf.

Against Six Spades, however, West led the ace of diamonds. This was a natural enough move, but turned out to be mistake number two. The switch to a trump at trick 2 was too late - or was it?

It was now declarer's turn to do something silly. Clearly he had to ruff his losing clubs on the table but, equally clearly, it was not right to start with the ace and king.

I am sure that you have spotted the superior play - to cash the top hearts, throwing a club from dummy, after which it is necessary to cash only one top club before starting to ruff the losers.

Conclusions? If West had not been proposing to lead trumps initially, he should have sacrificed in Seven Hearts, which would only have cost a paltry 1100 points. But then again, perhaps he knew his customers ...



] K 10 3

_ 2

+ Q J 9 7 6 5 2

[ 9 3

West East

] 6 4 ] 7 2

_ J 9 8 7 6 3 _ Q 10 5 4

+ A K 8 3 + 4

[ 2 [ Q J 10 8 7 4


] A Q J 9 8 5

_ A K

+ 10

[ A K 6 5