BRIDGE

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The Independent Culture
THIS would have been a very easy hand to play if declarer could have seen his opponents' cards. There were two critical suits and, although it would have been almost impossible to cope with bad breaks in both, the problem lay in planning matters if just one divided badly.

West opened One Heart and, after two passes, South doubled, North responded Two Diamonds (South might have had much less for his protective double) but jumped to game when South showed his spades. West started with three rounds of hearts against Four Spades and South ruffed the queen. From the bidding the king of clubs was sure to be wrong but if the diamonds broke 4-1 (and the trumps behaved) it would be right to duck an early round of diamonds after drawing trumps. Equally, ducking a spade all round would keep control and work perfectly as the cards lay.

Can you see the hitch? It would be infuriating to duck a round of trumps only to find that suit 3-2 all the time and a bad break in diamonds still to come.

By far and away the best bet is, after ruffing the third heart, to play off just the ace and king of spades. If all follow, the last trump can be drawn and a diamond ducked. As it is, the bad news in trumps comes to light but now declarer simply plays on diamonds. If, and when, West ruffs, dummy's queen of spades both draws the last trump and acts as an entry to the remaining diamonds.

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