Bridge: Spot the snag

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The Independent Culture
WHEN a hand looks straightforward, it is remarkably easy to play carelessly. A number of players in a pairs competition went down in Three No-trumps on this deal, although I am sure that if they were given the hand as a problem most of them would have got it right.

Love all; dealer South



K 3

Q 7 6 4 3

A 5 4 3


K 10 5 4 3

J 9 8 2


J 8 6


8 7 6 2

A 10 4

A 10 9 8

10 7


A 9

Q 7 6 5

K J 2

K Q 9 2

South opened one No- trump (15-17 points) and North raised to game. West made his natural lead of the four of spades and dummy's queen held, East encouraging with the eight. A low diamond from dummy went to the nine, king and five. Without a care in the world, declarer continued with the jack of diamonds, but now it was all over. West discarded a heart, East won and cleared the spades. With the diamonds breaking 4-1 there was now only time to come to eight tricks.

It is not good enough to lead the two of clubs to the ace before playing a second diamond. East, if he is alert, will go with the ace to block the suit and there is now no entry to dummy's diamonds. After the king of diamonds has won, correct technique is to cash the king and queen of clubs first. On finding the suit 3-2 the nine is led to dummy's ace before a second diamond is played. Now, if East goes in with his ace, there is a second club entry to the table to enjoy the diamonds. And if East plays low on the second diamond lead, allowing the jack to win, declarer abandons the suit and establishes his ninth trick in hearts.