bridge

24Seven
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The Independent Culture
Game all; dealer South

North

4A 8 3

!A K 10 9

#9 6 3 2

2K 7

West East

45 2 46 4

!8 7 5 3 !Q J 4

#8 7 5 #K J 10

2Q J 10 8 29 6 5 4 2

South

4K Q J 10 9 7

!6 2

#A Q 4

2A 3

The other week I referred to an opponent who, though no great technician, usually got things right and, to make matters worse, was an inveterate gloater. I suppose I got my own back on this week's deal, although I approve of his (losing!) line of play.

As South, Mr Smug (I can think of no better name than that of Skid Simon's fictional character) opened 14 and soon ended in a small slam.

West led the 2Q against 64 and declarer saw that he had 11 top tricks. Should he rely on the 50 per cent diamond finesse, plus the chance of testing hearts first in case both the queen and jack fell in three rounds, or was there something better? Of course! Two finesses in hearts, yield the extra trick unless East held both missing honours.

So after drawing trumps, declarer led a heart from hand and finessed dummy's ten. I won with the jack - natural enough, but the effect was far-reaching - and returned #J. South scowled for some time but went up with the ace and finessed again in hearts. I took two more tricks in the red suits to defeat the slam by two.

There were clearly winnng alternatives, but on balance declarer played with the odds. What amused me was his explanation: "When the first heart lost to the jack, I knew the queen was right," he complained. "With the queen and the jack, I would always have won the first one with the queen." Yes, most unsporting of me not to false card.

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