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'I KNOW East opened the bidding, but it was a little unlucky to find him with absolutely everything,' South complained after going down in his contract on the deal below.

Perhaps it was unlucky, but there was a better way to have tackled his problem.

East opened One Diamond and South overcalled with Two Clubs. West passed and North bid Two Diamonds - an 'unassuming cue-bid', in principle showing a high-card raise to at least Three Clubs.

With nothing to spare for his overcall, South went back to Three Clubs and this was passed out.

West led the four of diamonds and declarer ruffed the third round of the suit. He drew trumps, ending in hand, and finessed in hearts. This lost to the queen and East had a safe diamond exit.

When the next heart finesse lost as well, the defenders still had the ace of spades to come and the contract failed by one trick.

A better and successful plan would have been to win the second round of trumps in dummy.

When the trumps break 2-2, declarer can lead a low spade from the table. As it cannot help East to take his ace, the king wins.

Now declarer can enter dummy with a third round of trumps and lead the six of dimonds, discarding his losing spade.

This loser-on-loser play leaves East on lead and whatever he tries, and however the heart honours are divided, he has to give South his ninth trick.

North-South games; dealer East


Q 6 2

A J 10

6 5 3 2

K J 9


J 9 7 4

9 5 3 2

10 7 4

6 2


A 10 8 3

K Q 6

A K J 9

4 3


K 5

8 7 4

Q 8

A Q 10 8 7 5