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"THERE were two ways of playing the diamonds," South alibied after going down in Three No-trumps on this deal, "and although I chose the better line, it proved wrong." I suppose that that was true, as far as it went, but there was a third approach, easy to overlook. Any ideas?

North opened One Diamond and rebid Three Diamonds over South's heart response. Now Three-No-trumps by South was passed out and West led 4J, removing one of dummy's entries and making it more difficult to develop the long suit.

South's two ideas were: 1) lead #Q from dummy, smothering his own ten, which would work whenever the diamonds broke 3-2; and 2) lead a low diamond from dummy, which would work if either defender held a singleton honour or if they mistakenly won the first round of the suit. Reasonably enough, declarer chose line one and, as a result, went down, albeit unluckily. As you can see, line 2) would have worked.

And the third possibility? Come to hand with !A at trick two and then lead #10. If West has to play an honour (as he does), the problem is solved. And if West is able to, play low on #10, then declarer overtakes on the table and relies on a 3-2 break. The extra edge comes from seeing a card from West before deciding whether overtaking is necessary or not.

It may look dangerous to release !A so early but South's hearts are just not good enough. If East wins a diamond and pushes a heart through, South simply covers whatever is led and can lose at most two tricks in the suit no matter how it is divided.

Game all; dealer North



!5 4 2

#Q J 9 7 5 4 3

2A K

West East

4J 10 9 8 7 46 5 4

!K J 7 6 !10 8

#A #K 8 6 2

210 7 6 2Q 9 4 2


4K Q 3 2

!A Q 9 3


2J 8 5 3