Bridge: The nightmare of a bad heart break

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The Independent Culture
THE first five rounds of bidding took only moments. Then South, in spite of having a clear picture of his partner's hand, plunged in the wrong direction.

Game all; dealer South


J 10 6 3 2

Q 10 9 8 3 2




8 7 5


10 9 8 7 5

Q 9 6 4 3


9 4

J 7 6 5 4

Q J 2

J 10 5




A K 6 4

A 8 7 2

South opened Two Clubs and North gave the conventional Two Diamonds negative. South rebid Two Hearts and North was forced to reply Two Spades. Now South followed with Two No-trumps to show a balanced hand with at least 25 points, forcing to game.

Three Diamonds was a transfer to hearts and, after South had obliged, North showed his spades. With only three spades and two hearts South bid Three No-trumps and North completed his picture of 5-6 in the majors with slam ambitions by jumping to Five Spades. Bidding Seven in either major looked a fair bet now, although both contracts fail against the bad heart break, but South selfishly settled for Six No-trumps.

West led the ten of diamonds to the three, jack and king and after unblocking his five major suit cards declarer crossed to dummy's king of clubs. Next came the last two spades and the queen of hearts. East by now had parted with two clubs and the well-chosen queen of diamonds. On the ten of hearts, South discarded his last loser and waited for East to concede either the last two tricks to dummy or to declarer's two remaining aces.

East ducked, leaving South with the nightmare decision of which ace to throw on the next heart lead. There would have been no story if he had got it right, but he parted with the ace of diamonds and East's carefully preserved two finished matters.