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Independent Pursuits: Bridge

THE BIDDING on this deal was straightforward and, as South gloomily reflected afterwards, so should the play have been. He fell, however, into a trap into which many other declarers might well have fallen. In a way, I suppose, he had followed the line of least resistance.

South opened One Diamond, North responded One Spade and, in old-fashioned style, South rebid Three no-trumps to end the auction. West led 25 against 3 no-trumps and, after winning East's jack with his queen, South took stock. Tricks were needed in both spades and diamonds (the so-called "pointed" suits) and, as the lead was very conveniently in the South hand, it seemed a good idea to start with the spade finesse.

It was not a good idea - East won and the defenders cleared the clubs. Now, when the diamond finesse failed, West came to his long clubs and declarer ended one off.

Certainly both suits were needed, but declarer should have resisted the temptation to play them in this order. His best line, after winning the first trick, is to play the ace and another diamond. Now, whoever it is that wins with the king and plays a second club, declarer holds off until the third round of the suit. After this, he can take a spade finesse in reasonable safety. If West has started with five clubs, it is all over, whether or not the finesse wins. If the missing clubs were 4-4 all the time, there will be only four losers. Only if West has made an inspired opening lead from a three-card suit will the contract be in any danger.

Love all; dealer South


4A J 9 3

!8 6 5

#J 9 7 2

29 4

West East

48 7 4 2 4K 6

!Q 9 !K 7 4 3 2

#K 4 #8 6 5

2K 10 7 5 2 2J 8 3


4Q 10 5

!A J 10

#A Q 10 3

2A Q 6