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COMPARISON time at teams' play is always tense. 'Minus 100' announced North-South gloomily. 'They made the obvious game in no-trumps against us. Did you get too high?' In fact the contract had been the same at both tables but one South had been unlucky enough to meet an elegant defence.

Game all; dealer South


S 7 3

H Q 6 3

D A 10 9 6 4

C 7 6 5


S 10 6 4 2

H 9 8 7

D J 2

C Q J 4 2


S Q J 5

H A J 10 5 2

D Q 7 3

C 9 3


S A K 9 8

H K 4

D K 8 5

C A 10 8

South opened Two No-trumps and North raised to game. At one table West led the two of spades against Three No-trumps and the play was soon over. Declarer won East's jack with his king, ducked a round of diamonds to East's queen and on the return of the queen of spades had time to establish a third trick in the suit to score 630 points.

At the other table, after the same auction, West led an inspired nine of hearts. Declarer won in hand and it was clear to him that the diamonds had to be developed without West gaining the lead. At trick two he led a low diamond but West made the interesting blocking play of the jack. It was true that this allowed South to make three tricks in the suit but not four.

Guessing correctly what had happened, declarer won in dummy, finessed the eight of diamonds successfully and cashed the king. Then he tried another tack by playing off his four black winners. It was now East's turn to do his bit and, under the ace and king of spades, he dropped his jack and queen. (If he had failed to unblock he could have been thrown in with a third spade and reduced to leading hearts.) Now It was all over. It was West who won the third round of spades and another heart lead enabled his partner to take the rest of the tricks.