Bridge: Quick, but not quite quick enough

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SOME players are far quicker analysts than others. Declarer was the first to spot the winning line on this deal, well ahead of the others - and only moments after conceding one down . . .

North-South game; dealer West


S 7 6 3


D A 7 6 4

C K Q 10 9 5


K Q J 10 9


K J 9 5

J 7 3


A 8 4

J 7 4 3 2

8 2

8 4 2


5 2

A Q 10 9 8 5

Q 10 3

A 6

West opened One Spade and East raised to Two Spades. South overcalled with Three Hearts and North, judging correctly that his partner must have a good suit to bid vulnerable at the Three level, raised to game.

West led the king of spades against Four Hearts and East overtook the spade continuation to switch to the eight of diamonds. This went to the ten, jack and ace and, after cashing the king of hearts, declarer came back to hand with the ace of clubs in order to play a second top heart.

This brought the news of the bad break and, abandoning trumps, declarer started on clubs. One diamond went away safely but East was able to ruff the fourth club. South over-ruffed but there was no way to avoid the loss of a diamond and eventually a trump.

Almost immediately South explained what he should have done. Instead of coming to hand with the ace of clubs, he should have taken the tiny precaution of shortening his trumps by ruffing a spade. Then, when the bad trump break comes to light, he plays on clubs as before. The difference now is that, after over-ruffing East, South can exit with his losing diamond and must make the last two tricks with his remaining trumps.