Independent Pursuits: Bridge

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"IF I had got the diamonds right, I would have made 12 tricks!" claimed South after going down in 3 no-trumps on this deal. "Um!" responded his partner. It was one of the most expressive "Ums" that I have ever heard, expressing mild interest and agreement combined with definite criticism from a player who would have preferred to have seen the rubber clinched to watching his partner speculate about overtricks.

South opened One Spade, North responded Two Clubs, and South rebid Two Diamonds. North explored with Two Hearts (the fourth suit) and South, who might have stressed his distribution, placed more importance on his double guard in hearts and jumped to 3 no-trumps against which West led !5.

Declarer won with his king and led 2K but, of course, this was allowed to win. Next South tried a finesse of #J but, when this lost to the queen and a heart came back, it was all over. The defenders had no trouble with their discards and came to three hearts and 2A to join their diamond trick.

I like to think that my readers would have spotted the way to ensure the contract but, if you have not seen the theme before, then (like South) it simply may not occur to you. Play a diamond at trick three, certainly, but put on dummy's ace and lead a club - discarding !A from hand! If the defenders win and clear the hearts there are nine tricks with !J affording an entry to the table while, if they do not play hearts, declarer can force an entry to dummy with #J10.

Game all; dealer South


4Q 4

!J 10 9

#A J 10

2Q J 10 9 8

West East

49 5 3 4K J 7

!Q 8 7 5 3 !6 4 2

#9 3 #Q 8 2

2A 7 4 26 5 3 2


4A 10 8 6 2

!A K

#K 7 6 5 4