ETCETERA / Bridge

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The Independent Culture
A CAREFUL assessment of the odds led declarer to make a distinctly strange- looking play in the diamond suit in his slam contract on this deal. Not only was he successful - in the cases where it mattered, he was a 2-1 favourite]

South opened One Heart and West pre- empted to the limit with Four Spades. Under pressure, and not knowing to whom the hand belonged, North competed with Five Hearts. With values in reserve South went on to the slam.

West started with two top spades against Six Hearts, and it was clear to declarer that everything depended on how he tackled the diamonds. There was no rush, however, and after ruffing, drawing trumps, and cashing his club winners it was clear that West had started with eight spades, two hearts and two clubs. That placed him with one diamond: the queen, ten, nine, six or five.

If it was the six or the five, there was an inescapable loser in the suit, but to find him with either the nine or the ten was twice as likely as his having the queen. Accordingly, declarer crossed to dummy with a trump and led the jack of diamonds. East covered with the queen, but West's nine was pinned and, after re-entering dummy with a trump, the marked finesse of the eight of diamonds brought home the slam.

North

S. J 8 3

H. A Q 10 7

D. J 7 4 3 2

C. K

South

S. 5

H. K J 9 8 6 4

D. A K 8

C. A Q 3

West

S. A K Q 10 9 7 6 2

H. 5 2

D. 9

C. 8 4

East

S. 4

H. 3

D. Q 10 6 5

C. J 10 9 7 6 5 2

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