ETCETERA / Bridge

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The Independent Culture
EITHER good technique or applied psychology should have led to the winning play on this slam deal from last month's European Community Bridge Championships in Montechoro, Portugal, but not every declarer got matters right.

North-South game; dealer West

North

S K J 4 2

H A 2

D A Q 6 5

C K 9 2

West

8 6

10 9 8 7 4 3

7 3

7 6 5

East

10

K Q J

K 9 8 2

Q 10 8 4 3

South

A Q 9 7 5 3

6 5

J 10 4

A J

South ended in Six Spades and West found the only worrying lead - a heart. It was easy to win and draw trumps, but there was still the problem of the losing heart. A winning finesse in either diamonds or clubs would allow a heart discard, but if the first finesse failed, it would be too late to try the other.

Mathematically, the best chance of 12 tricks is to cash the ace of diamonds (with the slight chance of the king falling singleton) and, when this fails, take the club finesse. This works as the cards lie, but it is worth noting that if the diamond finesse wins there might be an overtrick. An extra 30 points is a small matter when 1,500 are at stake, but one that might be critical in a close match.

Sandra Landy, playing for the British women's team, found a neat way to improve her chances. At trick 4 she led the jack of diamonds from hand. Now if West had held the missing king it might have been necessary (and certainly very tempting) to cover. So when West followed with a low card, Sandra changed tack. She went up with dummy's ace and finessed successfully in clubs. Now the heart loser went away on the king of clubs and there was only a diamond trick to lose.

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