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There were some curiously mixed results on this deal from a recent pairs event. The final contract depended largely on East-West's bidding methods: what was the strength of their 1NT opening bid, and were they playing five-card majors?

When East opened 1NT (14-16 or 15-17 points) it was clearly unsound for South to join in. West had nothing to say and North had systemic problems, for a bid of 22 did not, alas, show clubs, so he passed as well. One No- trump played indifferently and usually lost more than 200 points although, as you will see, it could have been more expensive.

If East's opening bid was 1S, North protected with 22(although a pass would have worked extremely well). This frequently led to 3NT played by South. Now, how about the play after you have won the helpful lead of 410 with your jack? (Yes, a diamond lead would have killed you.)

From West's silence, it seems extremely likely that the heart finesse is right, the diamond finesse wrong, and 2A is badly placed for you. To play a club to the king will undoubtedly see East ducking, after which, with only one outside entry to dummy the suit will be dead.

Any ideas? Yes, play for East to hold A,J,x in clubs! Run 210 at trick two. It will not help East to hold off, he cannot attack dummy's diamond entry, and now three club tricks can safely be established.

Game all; dealer East


47 6 5 4

!7 4

#A Q

2K Q 5 3 2

West East

410 4Q 9 8 2

!10 8 6 5 !K J 9

#10 8 6 5 2 #K J 9

29 8 7 2A J 4


4A K J 3

!A Q 3 2

#7 4 3

210 6