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"Did they bid the diamond slam on Board 4?" enquired one player of his team-mates at comparison time during a recent match. "Yes, and of course it went down." "That's all right, then. We also lost 100 points." What our hero conveniently skated round was that he had gone down in Three No-trumps - a contract he should have made. As you can see, Six Diamonds had to fail with a sure trump loser and the hearts behaving unkindly. But what about South's activities in the more modest spot of Three No- trumps after the lead of the queen of clubs?

Dummy's side entry had been removed at trick 1, so declarer started by testing the diamonds. The 4-1 break was another irritant and he parted with a spade on the third top diamond. Next he tried his luck with the hearts but the finesse of the queen failed and the defenders cleared the clubs. Now South had to be satisfied with the eight top winners with which he had started.

In fact, there was no rush to play on diamonds or try the heart finesse - the extra chance lay in testing the far less promising spade suit. By playing the ace, king and another spade South would establish the ninth trick that he needed when either the spades broke 3-3 or - as here - East held a doubleton holding of two of the missing honours. And if the spades brought no joy, there was still the possibility of a diamond break with a heart finesse in reserve.

GAME ALL: Dealer South


] 9 4 3 2

_ 7 4

+ A Q 8 7 5 2

[ K

West East

] J 8 7 6 ] Q 10

_ K J 6 3 _ 10 9

+ 9 + J 10 6 4

[ Q J 10 8 [ 9 6 4 3 2


] A K 5

_ A Q 8 5 2

+ K 3

[ A 7 5