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WHEN you reach slam contracts in which you are clearly too high and regretting not playing in a peaceful game, you have to start visualising adverse distributions (however unlikely) that might help you. This was a good example from this year's Generali European Championships.

Both Five Clubs and Three No-trumps would have been straightforward, but more than one South ended in Six Clubs.

After a diamond lead and an inspection of dummy it was clear to declarer that he needed something favourable in order to avoid the loss of a heart and a trump. A singleton king of hearts would help, but there was no rush to try for that - another possibility was to find a defender with the singleton ace of trumps. Dummy's top diamonds were followed by two rounds of spades and a spade ruff. Then South cashed a third top diamond and exited with a trump. West won, and led a heart rather than concede a ruff and discard. South played dummy's ten and now he was home. As you can see, if West had been able to exit peacefully with a second round of trumps, declarer would still have had a chance of dropping the king of hearts.

In defence, the singleton ace of trumps can be a hazard. It's not that you are concerned about not making a trick with it - it's the possibility of being thrown in with it at an unfavourable time that sometimes makes it a good opening lead.

Love all; dealer North


] A K 5

_ Q 10 7 2

+ Q J

[ Q J 9 8

West East

] Q 10 8 4 3 ] J 9 7 6

_ J 9 5 3 _ K 6

+ 10 8 3 + 9 6 4 2

[ A [ 10 7 3


] 2

_ A 8 4

+ A K 7 5

[ K 6 5 4 2