ETCETERA / Bridge

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The Independent Culture
WHEN you read accounts of critical matches, you find writers have a tendency to pick out the dramatic deals where perhaps the success or failure of a slam depended on a debatable decision. In reality even the most pedestrian part scores can count. If East- West had defeated Two Spades on the deal below, the team would have won an important match.

North opened One No-trump (12-14 points) and - a rarity in these transfer-playing days - South responded Two Spades. Both East and West might have taken some action but they both passed and this became the final contract.

West led the queen of hearts and, after winning in dummy, declarer started on trumps. East won the second round and exited with king and another heart. West won and sensibly switched to a low club (reflecting that his partner should really have held up the ace of trumps for another round). Declarer played low from dummy and East's queen won.

It was clear to West that to beat the contract his partner must both have the king of diamonds and lead the suit immediately but, after prolonged reflection, East played back a trump. Now, after the defence had taken the ace of clubs, the diamond switch came too late.

Afterwards East 'explained' that he had played a trump rather than a diamond in case West held the jack of clubs but not the queen of diamonds. His argument did not hold water - if West had started with both the ace and jack of clubs there would have been no purpose in underleading his honours - declarer would have had no guess to take in the suit.

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