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N-S game & 40; dealer West

North

4K 7 6 3

!K 5 3

#8 6 2

2K 6 3

West East

4A Q J 49 5 2

!Q 9 !10 8 2

#A Q J 10 4 #K 7 3

29 8 7 2Q 10 5 2

South

410 8 4

!A J 7 6 4

#9 5

2A J 4

There is something about part-score situations that brings out the worst in some players. After some indifferent bidding, South finally made his contract for entirely the wrong reason.

West opened 1# and after two passes South bid 1!. West doubled, North raised to 2!, and East competed with 3#. North pushed on with 3! and all passed.

Both North and East had little excuse for their final bids as they held primarily defensive hands. (Three Diamonds would have drifted two off.) West led the nine of clubs and declarer won with his jack. A trump to the king saw West following with the nine and on the next trump lead declarer went up with his ace to drop the queen. With the ace of spades well placed there were now nine tricks.

"Why did you play for the drop in trumps?" asked an aggrieved West. "When the nine falls on the first round, the queen is usually with it," answered South, quoting a popular myth.

Oddly enough, South was right to play as he did. Consider: East, from the opening lead, seemed marked with the queen of clubs. If West had held both the ace and king of diamonds, surely he would have led one to inspect dummy, so East holds the king. But he has passed the opening bid and, consequently, his partner must hold the queen of trumps. But you'll never convince South that his pet theory is unsound.

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