Games: Bridge

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North-South game;

dealer West


4J 6 4

!A K 10

#A 10 9 8 4 2


West East

410 9 8 2 47 5

!7 3 !8 6 5 4 2

#none #K J 7 3

2Q J 10 9 8 4 3 25 2


4A K Q 3

!Q J 9

#Q 6 5

2A K 7

IT DOES not do much for your self-esteem if you consider bidding a grand slam, decide to settle for a "safe" Six, then go off. Mind you, the final contract was sound enough, but perhaps declarer might have given himself a better chance.

Gloating over his best hand of the evening, South was surprised to find matters well under way before he had a chance to speak. West opened Four Clubs (which would have cost him 1,100 points) and North overcalled with Four Diamonds. Blackwood revealed that a possibly vital king was missing and South settled for Six No-trumps.

West led 2Q against the slam and, after winning, declarer led a low diamond. It was bad news when West showed out and now, whatever South tried, he could make no more than the obvious 11 tricks.

Before committing himself in diamonds, it would have cost declarer nothing to play off three rounds of spades. You can see the effect: West turns out to have started with four spades as well as his club length and this strongly suggests that he is short in diamonds and a void becomes a real possibility. A reasonable continuation would be to lead #10 from the table. East plays low (best) and we will say that South plays the queen (if he runs the 10, so much the better).

Now a second top club and the fourth spade forces East to come down to three hearts and #K J 7.

With a complete count, South cashes his three hearts and finesses #8, forcing a return into dummy's #A9. Yes, I suppose that it would all have gone adrift if #Q had lost to the singleton king...