Bridge: A fresh approach

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'A LITTLE unlucky, I thought,' commented South, after an expensive setback on this slam deal. 'I need not have thought so long - neither line works.' His partner's expression suggested that there might have been a different approach to declarer's problems.

Game all; dealer South


9 8

A 4

Q J 9 7 3

Q 7 6 3


6 5 4

J 10 9

10 6

K 9 8 4 2


7 2

K Q 8 5

8 5 4 2

J 10 5


A K Q J 10 3

7 6 3 2



South started the bidding with Two Spades. North responded Three Diamonds and raised his partner's spade rebid to game. South cue bid Five Clubs and, after North had shown his heart control, jumped to Six Spades.

There would have been thirteen top winners if West had not had a natural heart lead, but the jack of hearts left declarer with communication problems. He attempted to solve them by playing the ace and another heart. East won and switched to a trump.

South won in hand, cashed his top diamonds and was left with a nasty choice - to draw a second trump with dummy's nine and hope that two more rounds of diamonds would stand up; or to ruff a heart and hope diamonds divided 3- 3. However, neither worked.

There was a very simple solution to South's problems - to duck the opening lead. If the defenders continue hearts, declarer can ruff his two losers high in dummy. If instead they switch to trumps, the ace of hearts is still there as an entry to the winning diamonds after all the missing trumps have been drawn.