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PLAYING in a pairs' contest always produces some sightly off-beat bids. There is a tendency to play in no-trumps rather than a major suit, and a major rather than a minor. This goes some way towards explaining South's activities on this deal.

Love all; dealer South


S 9 8 3 2

H 7 5 3

D K J 9 4 3



K 7 6


8 7

10 9 8 7 5 3 2


J 10 5

K 9 8 2

Q 10 5



A Q 4

A Q J 6 4

A 6 2

6 4

South opened One No-trump (15-17 points) instead of One Heart. After two passes - although there was a case for North trying a Stayman Two Clubs and passing any response - East re-opened with a double and West retreated to Two Clubs. Now North competed with Two Diamonds and, after East had passed, South decided to try his luck with Two Hearts. West competed again in clubs, North went on to Three Hearts and all passed. West led the ten of clubs to his partner's queen and East shrewdly returned the five of spades instead of the jack. There was no reason for declarer to make the winning play of a low spade and his finesse of the queen lost to the king. A spade came back and, after winning, declarer ruffed his losing club and took a successful trump finesse. The fall of West's ten looked ominous and (with only one entry to dummy) South was faced with a losing spade and likely losers in both red suits. It was not as bad as it seemed - declarer exited with his losing spade to leave East on lead. Again defending well, East led another club, conceding a useless ruff and discard. South discarded a diamond and ruffed on the table, then he followed with the ace of diamonds, king of diamonds, and a diamond ruff. Now, with only trumps left, he got off lead with a low heart to East's eight and the marked finesse in the suit gave him the last two tricks.