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The Independent Culture
ONE OF the big bridge events of the year, the Macallan International Pairs, takes place in London this month. The 16 competing pairs include most of the world's top players and the trophy is sure to be as keenly contested now as when the event was inaugurated over a quarter of a century ago. This was a deal from one of the early years.

At all tables the auction was competitive. East-West usually got as high as Three Spades (which they make comfortably) but had to decide what to do when North-South advanced to Four Hearts. Some pairs went on to Four Spades, avoiding a possible big loss, others decided to take their chances in defence.

How do you rate South's chances in Four Hearts after a spade lead and continuation? With three certain losers, it appears he must rely on the double finesse in diamonds to avoid a loser in the suit. East holds both missing honours, but to take advantage of this, declarer needs three entries to the table.

After ruffing with the six of hearts (preserving the two), declarer led the king of trumps to East's ace. He ruffed the next spade high, drew the outstanding trumps by leading the nine to dummy's ten, and started on the diamonds. He still had the three of hearts and the ace of clubs as entries to dummy, so the double finesse brought home the contract.

Should East-West have sacrificed? Only if they proposed to defend as they did] Try the effect of letting declarer's king of trumps win - now there is only one trump entry to dummy, and by splitting his diamond honours on the first round, East can ensure a trick in the suit.

Le Meridien Hotel, Piccadilly, London W1, Wed 20 Jan 7.30pm; Thurs 11am and 6pm; Fri 2pm.