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IT LOOKED as though South had played the deal below very skilfully and was only defeated when East found an equally skilful counter. It was only much later that South realised that he could have made it - but he never told his partner]

South opened One No-trump and West intervened with Three Hearts. You or I might have raised unimaginatively to Three No-trumps but at the table North bid Four. Whether this was intended to be quantitative or show the minors never became clear for South jumped to Six No-trumps.

West led the king of hearts and South was relieved to see that there was a fair play for the slam. The outlook brightened when, after winning with the ace of hearts, he ran the jack of clubs successfully but darkened again when West showed out on the queen of clubs.

There was still a chance, however, if East held only one heart (which seemed likely after West's bid) and the queen of spades. South played off the ace of clubs and followed with four rounds of diamonds ending in dummy. Then he exited with the ten of clubs leaving SJ7 H7 C9 in dummy, SAK4 HJ in hand and East on lead with SQ1085. If only East had got off lead with a low spade declarer would have had the rest of the tricks but East elegantly exited with the queen of spades to leave declarer a trick short.

Did you spot South's tiny slip? Three rounds only of diamonds (leaving an entry to hand) would have been enough to remove East's exit cards. Then the club lead endplays East successfully.