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Bridge: North and South go west

IT TOOK a combined effort by North and South to achieve a minus score on this deal. First, North made a bid which was surely unnecessary, then his partner compounded the error by following an inferior line of play.

Game all; dealer South



H Q 10 7 3

D 9 6 3 2

C Q 3


10 8

9 8 6 5 2

K 8

J 10 9 7


J 9 7 6 4


A Q J 5

8 5 4 2


5 3 2

A K J 4

10 7 4

A K 6

South opened One No-trump (15-17 points) and North responded with Two Clubs (Stayman). To my mind, this was a completely pointless exercise - with a reasonably balanced hand and 13 points, a contract of Three No-trumps could hardly fail, while a delicate 4-4 heart fit might run into a bad trump break. You can see what happened next.

Against Three No-trumps, West would hardly have led the king of diamonds, and there would have been ten top winners. As it was, South dutifully showed his hearts and was raised to game.

West led the jack of clubs against Four Hearts and, after winning with dummy's queen and testing the trumps, South had to try to repair the damage.

There was no future in continuing trumps, so instead he attempted to cash his other black winners. West ruffed the third spade and lost no time in switching to the king of diamonds for the defenders to take three more tricks.

How could South have planned matters better? He should have contented himself with just two rounds of spades. He follows with his top clubs and discards dummy's queen of spades. Then a spade ruff gives him his 10th trick.

If West just happens to ruff the third round of clubs, dummy can over-ruff. Now, after drawing the remaining trumps, the queen of spades can safely be cashed.