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THE International Bridge Press Association offers annual awards for the best plays, defences, etc. that have been reported. Last year the Precision Award for the Best Defence went to Zia Mahmood for this effort in the American Spingold. Whether he could really foresee the effect of his play at trick 1 - ah! I leave you to decide - it created a unique diversion and persuaded declarer to go wrong.

South opened One Club, North respon-ded One Spade, and South rebid One No-trump. North's next move of Two Diamonds was a conventional "check- back" and he went on to Three No-trumps over South's Two Hearts. West led a diamond - the only suit that had not been genuinely bid - and, after dummy had played low, Zia introduced his master-stroke of trying the jack. South took his queen but, not realising spades would yield five tricks, tested hearts first. If the jack fell, he reasoned, with two more diamond tricks to come, only two spade winners would be needed.

Hearts didn't behave but, before trying spades, declarer took the "marked" diamond finesse. Zia took his king and made the switch to the queen of clubs before continuing the suit. (This would have been necessary if West's clubs had only been as good as AJ9.) The defenders came to three clubs, a diamond, and a heart to defeat the contract.