ETCETERA / Bridge

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The Independent Culture
A WEAK opening bid was matched by some equally weak play by declarer on this deal from recent match play. He was punished when the same contract was reached at the other table but played by the other hand.

South opened One Spade - a doubtful effort - and North raised directly to Four Spades. West led the queen of hearts and declarer took stock. It looked very much as though he would lose a trick in each suit. He won in dummy and led a low club, hoping to persuade East he held the singleton queen.

East considered the problem but played low. Now, as anticipated, South eventually lost four tricks. As you can see, it would not have mattered if East had gone in with his ace, as long as he returned a heart, for the club suit would be blocked.

South's only legitimate chance was to have played East for both the king and queen of diamonds and, even then, accurate timing would have been essential. His correct sequence of play, after winning the heart lead, is to play the ten of diamonds from dummy and duck when East covers. After winning the next heart lead he can finesse the jack of diamonds and discard dummy's losing heart on the ace of diamonds. Then, finally, he can afford to tackle trumps.

At the other table South passed, North opened One Spade, and South raised to game. With no reason to find a heart lead, East tried the king of diamonds and now declarer had an easy run.

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