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I WAS shown a curious problem the other day. It was a 'double-dummy' problem (you can see all four hands) but it was not one of those baffling squeeze hands that infuriates everyone. The solution was quite simple but strangely elusive and the hand baffled a number of top players. Try your luck]

South plays in Six Clubs against the lead of the ace of spades. What would have been an easy contract on normal breaks has suddenly become difficult because of the 4-0 splits in both trumps and diamonds. There are certainly 12 winners; the problem lies in getting at them.

Try the obvious approach - ruff the spade lead, draw four rounds of trumps, and play on diamonds. No good, for East wins the third round of diamonds and forces with another spade. Now the diamonds are blocked and declarer loses a heart at the end.

What about throwing the ten of diamonds on the fourth trump? Still no good, for East simply allows the jack of diamonds to hold and again South has only 11 tricks.

Give up? Try ruffing the spade lead, drawing four rounds of trumps and, the key play, discarding the queen of spades from dummy. Then follow with the ace, king and jack of diamonds. If East ducks, you clear the suit. If East wins the third diamond and forces with a spade, you ruff in hand and discard the blocking ten of diamonds from dummy.

If East-West had suspected that South was capable of such play, they should have sacrificed in Six Spades - only one off]