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The Independent Culture
LEADING a trump against a confidently bid grand slam is a traditional, but possibly over-rated, pastime. Last year's European Championships saw the lead pick up partner's queen for a spectacular loss. Even when the lead appears totally harmless, there can be drawbacks...

South opened One Diamond, North responded One Heart, and South rebid One Spade. North raised to Four Spades, South cue-bid Five Clubs and North showed his heart control. South repeated his cue-bid in clubs and, not to be outdone, North did the same in hearts. This was enough for South who jumped to Seven Spades.

West led a "text-book" trump and declarer won cheaply with his nine. He cashed two rounds of clubs safely and then led a third. West did his best by false-carding with his queen, but declarer - relying on a 3-2 trump break - ruffed high in dummy.

He was completely justified when East showed out. After coming to hand, the last club was ruffed high and it was all over.

Suppose that West had led the queen of clubs instead of a trump? Declarer can still get home by ruffing two clubs high and finessing against East's ten of trumps, but who plays like that? A far more natural play is to attempt to ruff one club low and, if all goes well, trump the last one high. Disaster, as you can see, for East can over-ruff the third round of clubs.