Bridge: A defensive problem

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The Independent Culture
SOMETIMES this bridge correspondent is asked to arbitrate on a disagreement and worries that his verdict may then be used as evidence in a divorce.

Love all: dealer East

North

S 10 9 6 5

H K J 8 4

D Q J 8 5

C 4

West

K 4

A 6 5

K 10 9 7 6 2

10 3

East

A J 8 2

9 7 2

A 3

A 8 7 2

South

Q 7 3

Q 10 3

4

K Q J 9 6 5

East opened One No-trump, South overcalled with Two Clubs and West doubled. This was part of the Lebensohl convention, promising the values for a raise to Two No-trumps and at least a doubleton club.

East was happy to pass, and with a difficult lead, West chose the ace of hearts. This went to the four, two ('I have an odd number of cards in the suit') and three. Next came a good switch to the king of spades, on which East followed with the eight, and a spade to the ace.

Now came the critical point - East returned the two of spades for West to ruff. Was this, as East intended, a McKenney signal for the return in the lowest ranking side suit (diamonds), after which the jack of spades promotes another trump trick for the defence - or a reluctance to establish dummy's ten of spades? In practice, West led another heart and declarer escaped for one off.

Then the argument started, and I had to side with East. Had he held the queen of hearts but not the ace of diamonds, he would certainly have returned the jack of spades instead of the two, requesting a heart continuation. West should have been only too delighted to score a trick with her ten of clubs if declarer had tried to tke advantage of the established ten of spades.

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