Bridge: Working hard

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The Independent Culture
WHEN your partnership holds 27 points in balanced hands, you would expect Three No-trumps to be fairly easy. On this deal, however, the duplication of values in the minor suits meant that South, in spite of a kindly defence, had to work hard for his ninth trick.

Game all; dealer South


6 4 3 2

J 7 6

K 10 4

Q 10 5


A K J 7

Q 10 2

8 6 3

9 7 6



K 5 4 3

9 7 5 2

8 4 3 2


Q 10 8 5

A 9 8



South opened Two No- trumps and North very sensibly raised directly to game. West led the ace of spades against Three No-trumps and South followed with the eight. The lead was fine, but West's continuation of the king of spades was ill-judged. West switched to a club.

There were now eight tricks on top, and one possibility (which works as the cards lie) was to cash the six minor-suit winners and exit with the queen and another spade. This leaves West on lead to open the heart suit, after which a good guess by declarer will give him a second trick in the suit. This would fail, however, if West held four cards in either minor.

Declarer tried another tack, hoping to throw West in on the third round of hearts, and compelling him to lead a spade into South's tenace. First, a heart trick had to be lost. After winning the club switch in hand, declarer led the nine of hearts, planning to run it if West played low.

In practice, West won with the queen and led another club. Now declarer took all his minor-suit winners, ending in dummy, and had to decide who held the king of hearts. If it were West, the ace and another heart would win.

Instead, perhaps because it was more elegant, South played for East to hold the critical king. He led the jack of hearts from dummy, East covered, and declarer won. Now West was thrown in with his ten of hearts, and had to concede the last two tricks.