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'WHAT IS the percentage play with Q1098 facing A654?' asked a colleague. 'To take two finesses,' I replied unguardedly (and so it is), but the happy look in his eye prompted me to add 'But there may be tactical considerations.' I thought that covered all eventualities.

South opened One No- trump (12-14 points). West overcalled with Two Hearts, and North doubled. This was Lebensohl, showing a raise to Two No-trumps, but allowing scope for partner to make a penalty pass. With a maximum, South was prepared to go on to game but bid Three Spades en route, in case there was a fit, and North raised to game.

West led the king of hearts against Four Spades and, after holding up once, declarer won the heart continuation. He started trumps by running the ten, but East won with the jack and put his partner in with the ace of clubs. Now a third round of hearts promoted a second trump trick for the defenders.

It does not help South to lead the queen of spades instead of the ten. West covers and the ace wins, but now East takes the second trump and puts his partner in with the ace of clubs as before, to score the setting trick with the seven of spades.

Declarer does better to cross to the table with the king of diamonds before leading a low trump from dummy and finessing the ten. West takes his king, but another heart lead can be ruffed with dummy's ace, and East's jack of trumps picked up with another finesse.


S. A 6 5 4

H. 10 6

D. K Q 3

C. Q J 10 4


S. Q 10 9 8

H. A 3 2

D. A J 5

C. K 9 7


S. J 7 3

H. J 5

D. 10 8 7 4 2

C. 8 5 3


S. K 2

H. K Q 9 8 7 4

D. 9 6

C. A 6 2