BRIDGE

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The bidding on this deal could hardly be described as scientific, but the play was quite subtle, with declarer coming through triumphantly after placing the cards well.

East opened Four Hearts, hoping that this would end the auction, but South overcalled with Four Spades. West passed and, aware that his partner might have had to "stretch" a little, so did North. It is usually wrong to bid again once you have pre-empted but, with his eight-card suit, East gave the matter some consideration before giving up.

West led the jack of hearts against Four Spades and there was clearly the danger for declarer of losing a diamond and three clubs. He found an excellent shot when he refused to cover the opening lead with dummy's queen. East, slightly puzzled, played low and South continued his good work by discarding the three of diamonds from hand, leaving West on lead.

West continued hearts but now declarer ruffed, drew trumps in two rounds, and followed with the ace and queen of diamonds. It did not matter who held the king - if East was able to cover, there would be two diamond winners in dummy; if East played low, a club could safely be discarded.

Would it have helped East to overtake the jack of hearts at trick 1? Not really, for declarer ruffs and can now establish a heart trick without difficulty for a discard of his losing diamond. Then all he loses are three clubs.

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