BRIDGE

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The Independent Culture
This deal had quite a simple point, which fortunately eluded my opponent in a recent pairs event. With little to go on I had not found the most dynamic opening lead, but declarer missed his way.

South opened Two No-trumps and, without any preamble, North raised to Six No-trumps. Be honest, with the West cards, would you not lead the ten of clubs? I did, but as you can see, a spade lead would have been the killer.

Declarer won in hand and, reasonably enough, decided to play on diamonds. He cashed the ace and followed with the two to dummy's queen which was allowed to hold. As West I had followed with the nine then the four, while my partner had contributed the five then the ten.

This left South with a horrid decision. Should he play for an even break in diamonds or rely on the spade finesse? Possibly influenced by our false- carding in diamonds or, more likely, by the percentages, he came to hand and finessed in spades. Gratefully, we took our two tricks.

How would you have played the hand? Undoubtedly the best bet is to lead a low diamond, not the ace, at trick 2.

If West wins with the king, there is no need for a spade finesse. If East wins with the king, he cannot put you to an immediate guess, and there is time to test the diamonds for an even break before falling back on the spades. Finally, if the queen is allowed to win, playing on spades guarantees 12 tricks.

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