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WITH four trumps in dummy it should not have been too difficult for South to take two diamond ruffs on the table to make his contract of Four Hearts. However, a shortage of entries to hand left him with only nine tricks. North opened One Club, East passed, and South responded One Hearts. West overcalled with Three Diamonds and, as a bid of Three Hearts might have sounded merely competitive, North stretched a little to bid Four Hearts, ending the auction. West led the ace of diamonds and switched to his singleton trump at trick 2. It all looked comfortable enough to South - four trumps, two clubs, two spades and two diamond ruffs in dummy. To prevent the defenders drawing trumps too soon, declarer went up with dummy's ace and led a spade to the king. Then he ruffed a diamond and led the queen of spades from the table. East took his ace and played the king and another trumps to leave South a trick short.

Declarer should have realised that two early rounds of trumps would not have been fatal. Suppose that he plays low from dummy on the trump switch at trick 2? East takes his king and returns a heart which South wins in hand. Now he can take a diamond ruff and lead a spade. If East plays low, a second diamond ruff follows; if West can win the ace, he has no more trumps; and if East takes his ace to lead a third round of trumps, declarer has three spade tricks and no need of another ruff on the table.