Bridge: Getting it nearly right

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The Independent Culture
THERE was more than one way of defeating Four Hearts on this deal, but at neither table did the defenders get it quite right.

Game all; dealer South


J 8 3

A 8 7 4

K J 10 9

Q 8


Q 7 2

J 2

Q 7 3

A K 7 5 3


9 6 5

Q 10 5

6 4 2

10 9 6 2


A K 10 4

K 9 6 3

A 8 5

J 4

South opened One No-trump (15-17) and ended in Four Hearts after a Stayman inquiry by North. West cashed his two top clubs, and realised that his partner could hold at most a queen, and any continuation looked dangerous.

A club would concede a ruff and discard, a trump (which would have been safe as the cards lay) might prove costly if his partner held the queen and two low cards, and a diamond would solve declarer's problems in the suit.

One West tried a low spade, hoping his partner held the ten, and that declarer would not play dummy's jack. South won cheaply, played off two top trumps, and cashed his spade winners before exiting with a trump. East was end-played, and there was no need for a guess in diamonds.

The other West did better - he got off play with a diamond, although he knew that this would solve declarer's problems in the suit. Judging the position well, South played off two more rounds of diamonds, crossed to the ace of hearts, and led a low heart. When East followed with the ten, South ducked. On lead with his jack, it was West who was end-played.

Did you spot East's chance? He must play the queen of trumps on the second round, retaining the lead if declarer ducks, and swallowing his partner's jack. Then he has a safe spade exit, and declarer must lose another trick.