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There would have been no story on this deal if it had been North who was playing in Three No-trumps. Unfortunately for South, the partnership were playing a Strong Club system and South apparently had no option but to open One No-trump and, as a result, played the hand. He had to work hard against good defence.

After One No-trump by South, North explored with a Stayman Two Clubs but, finding no major suit fit, settled for Three No-trumps. West led #J and declarer judged well to play low from dummy. He ducked the next diamond lead as well and East won the third round with his ace.

Now East stopped to think. He could see that he would be embarrassed when declarer played off the winning hearts so, instead of cashing the fourth diamond, he switched to 4K.

This was good defence but not quite good enough. Declarer won with the ace and cashed his four hearts. East could let 49 go easily enough but, in order to keep the clubs guarded, he was forced to part with his last diamond. Now declarer was able to establish his ninth trick in spades.

East blamed his partner for leading a third diamond instead of switching to spades but in fact this would not have helped their cause. Declarer wins with dummy's ace and again four rounds of hearts leave East in trouble. He cannot stand the pressure in three suits - the queen of spades can go, but then he has to give up.

Can you see why declarer did well by not trying #K earlier? If he does, the defenders take just two diamonds and now East has another safe discard - #Q! - keeping in contact with his partner's two winners in the suit.

E-W game; dealer South


4A J 7 4

!A Q J 9

#K 7 5

26 4

West East

48 5 2 4K Q 9

!8 6 4 2 !7 5

#J 10 9 6 #A Q 8 4

29 5 2J 10 8 7


410 6 3

!K 10 3

#3 2

2A K Q 3 2