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The Independent Culture
THERE was a surprising number of variations in the play of what looked a simple enough deal when it appeared in a recent pairs event. Almost without exception the final contract was Four Spades.

At my table West had overcalled in diamonds and started the defence with two top clubs. After trumping I crossed twice to dummy with the red kings, ruffing a club in hand each time. Then came three rounds of trumps and the two red aces to give me 10 tricks.

It was a straightforward enough dummy reversal, but to my surprise, a number of declarers had failed. Instead of counting 10 winners, they became obsessed with coping with their fourth possible loser - the last heart.

Those Souths who simply played off the king and ace of hearts (planning to concede a trick in the suit and ruff the last heart if necessary) deservedly failed when West trumped their ace of hearts. Some declarers succeeded by playing first the ace of hearts, then leading towards the king. Now, if West ruffed, he was only ruffing a loser.

There was some interesting play at one table after a trump lead. Declarer won in hand and followed with the ace and another heart. He ran into a new snag now, for West ruffed and brilliantly underled his club honours to put East in with his jack, in order to collect a second heart ruff. To succeed after a trump lead, declarer must give up a club at trick 2, neatly cutting the defenders' communications. Then, after a second trump lead, he can play ace and another heart to leave West helpless, for he can never get in to play a third trump.