Bridge: Wrong play

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The Independent Culture
'IT WAS a good hand for our methods, you made a well- judged bid, but I got the play wrong,' said South philosophically, after this deal.

Game all; dealer North



K J 10

K Q J 7 4

J 8 7


J 2

A 8 7 6

9 2

A Q 9 4 2


10 5 4 3

4 3 2

10 6 5

K 6 3


A 9 8 7 6

Q 9 5

A 8 3

10 5

North opened One No- trump (15-17 points) and, not playing transfers, South forced to game with Three Spades. Strictly speaking, North should have gone back to no- trumps, but his spades could hardly be better, and with a distinct club weakness, he raised to Four Spades. Indeed, Three No-trumps would have been likely to fail, even without a club lead.

West led the ace of hearts and switched to the ace and led another club. East won and led a third round, ruffed by declarer. The king and queen of trumps saw West's jack fall, and South had to decide whether this was a true card or not. In practice, South came to hand with the ace of diamonds to play off the ace of spades. Now the contract had to fail.

If declarer decides to believe West's play, he can get home very neatly with a trump coup, as long as East has started with three diamonds as well as his trump length. Instead of trying a third round of trumps, declarer merely continues diamonds, eventually discarding hearts from hand. As soon as East ruffs (which could be as late as trick 12, but it does not help him), South over-ruffs and draws the last trump.

Very neat, but the defence had certainly co-operated by reducing South's trumps to the same length as East's. It is worth noting that three rounds of clubs initially, followed by a fourth round when West is in with the ace of hearts, would have given South no chance.