Bridge: A loss of concentration

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SMOOTH bidding led to a good slam here. The play looked as if it was going to be easy, but an unexpectedly bad trump break led to problems.

Game all; dealer North

North

SA J 8

HK

DA J 8 6

CA K Q J 4

West

S7 5 4 3 2

HJ 6 4

DK

C8 7 6 3

East

S none

HA Q 8 7 5 2

DQ 9 4 3

C10 9 5

South

SK Q 10 9 6

H10 9 3

D10 7 5 2

C2

North opened Two Clubs, and East overcalled with Two Hearts. South would normally have given a negative response to Two Clubs, but the partnership agreement was that after intervention, a suit response could be shaded. So, South bid Two Spades.

Roman Key Card Blackwood revealed one key card (the king of spades) and a further enquiry for the queen of trumps was confirmed by South jumping to Six Spades. West led the four of hearts to the king and ace and East returned the ten of clubs.

It all looked straightforward - declarer's plan was to lead dummy's eight of spades to his nine, ruff a heart with the ace of spades, and overtake the jack to draw trumps. Then if the clubs broke, he was home and dry. Everything went sour at trick 3, when on the eight of spades, East showed out. West's seven of trumps had become an ominously high card.

A veil should be drawn over the sequel which led to a one-trick defeat. Once the trump division had come to light, there was only one chance - that West had started with four clubs and one diamond. Declarer should have let the eight of spades hold the trick and followed by cashing five minor- suit winners. Then a high cross-ruff would have brought in the rest of the tricks.

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