BRIDGE

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The Independent Culture
It is odd how even experienced players get a fixed idea about a hand and, in pursing their plan relentlessly, miss something obvious that has turned up.

South opened Four Clubs - no, not a misprint but so-called "South African Texas" showing a strong opening bid of Four Hearts, but without the all- round strength to open with a Two bid. By arrangement it showed either a solid suit or a one loser suit with an outside ace.

This made it easy for the partners to exchange cue-bids on the way to Six Hearts against which West led the king of diamonds. At first glance it seemed the slam would depend on the spade finesse but, with three entries to dummy, declarer soon saw the extra chance of the king of clubs coming down in three rounds.

South played off the ace of clubs, crossed to the seven of hearts, and ruffed a club. The fall of West's jack looked promising and, after crossing to the king of trumps, declarer ruffed another club. No joy, and, when the spade finesse failed, so did the slam. What was it South missed? On the first two rounds of clubs West had played the ten and jack. This left dummy's queen and nine as equals and, instead of ruffing the third club, declarer should simply discard his losing diamond. If West has the king of clubs he is welcome to it, for now South's losing spade goes away on the established club.

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