Bridge: Elegant defence brings success

NEITHER East nor West could be accused of being backward in the bidding on this deal from a recent pairs event, and it required an elegant defence for them to capitalise on the favourable lie of the cards.

Love all; dealer East

North

K 9 6 3

9 8

8 7 6 4

Q J 5

West

2

3 2

A 10 5 3

A 10 9 8 6 4

East

A Q 10 7 5

A 7 6 5

J 2

7 3

South

J 8 4

K Q J 10 4

K Q 9

K 2

Playing five card majors, East opened One Spade and South overcalled, reasonably enough, with Two Hearts. West (without really having the material for a bid) made a negative double, suggesting values in the unbid suits, to leave East with a horrid problem. He had already shown five spades, and held only two cards in each of the suits in which his partner was interested. Hoping for the best, he decided to pass.

West led the two of spades (clearly a singleton) against Two Hearts doubled, and East won with the queen. Rather than give his partner an immediate ruff, he made the far- sighted return of the two of diamonds - not the jack. South played the queen and lost to West's ace. West, who at this stage could hardly read the position, was able to return the three of diamonds to the jack and king.

Now declarer turned his attention to trumps, but East won the first round and, at last, cashed the ace of spades and gave his partner a spade ruff by leading the ten. It was a clear suit preference signal for a diamond, the higher-ranking side suit, and West cashed the ten of diamonds. This allowed East to discard the seven of clubs, and now the ace and another club gave East a club ruff to defeat the contract by three tricks for a top score.

It is worth noting East's switch to the two of diamonds, rather than the more obvious jack, which would have allowed South to cover with the queen, and make a diamond return by West a losing play.

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