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N-S game; dealer South



!Q J 10

#A K Q 10 8

2Q 9 6 5

West East

4K Q J 10 9 8 5 47 6 4 3

!none !A 9 4 2

#9 6 5 #J 3

28 4 3 2K J 2



!K 8 7 6 5 3

#7 4 2

2A 10 7

East-West put up a high defensive barrage on this deal and, as a result, when their .opponents reached a slam it was not at all clear they were on firm ground.

South opened One Heart and West pre-empted with Four Spades. North tried Four No-trumps (it was not clear whether this was meant as Blackwood or showing a minor-suit orientated hand) and East muddied the waters further with a bid of Five Spades. South doubled, but North removed to Six Hearts.

West led the king of spades against the slam and, after winning, declarer started on trumps. East won the second round and, with the vague idea that declarer might have started with a singleton diamond and could be cut off from dummy, switched to the three of diamonds. This did not worry South and, after drawing trumps, he was able to claim.

The unlikely opening lead of a club would have worked well, but can you see the spectacular chance missed by East? After winning the second trump he must switch to the king of clubs - a Merrimac Coup. As East can place South with the ace of clubs, he can count twelve tricks for declarer if he is allowed to draw trumps. The king of clubs drives out South's entry before the trumps have been unblocked and now East either scores with his jack of clubs or is able to ruff the third round of diamonds.