Independent Pursuits: Bridge

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"WELL DONE, partner!" exclaimed East after South's game contract had been defeated on this deal. West looked blank but had sufficient savoir faire not to ask what it was that he had done that was apparently so good.

South opened One Spade and went on to game after West had passed and North had raised to Three Spades, West led 2K against Four Spades, and it was clear to declarer that his best chance of success lay in developing the diamonds without letting East into the lead for a potentially fatal heart switch. So he held off the first trick and won the club continuation.

South drew trumps in two rounds, ending in dummy, and led a diamond, finessing the queen when East played low. Usually you take a finesse in the hope that it will win but, in the present situation, declarer would have been only too happy to see West (the safe hand) win with #K. Not only did #Q hold, but West then followed suit with the ten.

Why had West played the ten, which might have been a significant card? Simple - it had been drummed into him that he should play high-low with a doubleton in order to help his partner count the hand. Here, however, his unblocking play of the ten had a dramatic effect, for East, with #K9 still sitting over dummy's jack, was bound to gain the lead after which his return of !Q scuppered the contract.

Just consider what would have happened if West had retained his #10 and followed to the first round of the suit with his three. Declarer crosses to dummy with a trump and leads a second diamond. When East's nine appears, he ducks and West is forced to overtake with his ten. After this, the defenders would only be able to take their ace of hearts.

Game all; dealer South

North

4A 9 7 4

!8 2

#J 8 6 5 2

2A 6

West East

410 2 4J 6

!A 6 5 3 !Q J 10 9

#10 3 #K 9 4

2K Q 10 3 2 2J 9 7 4

South

4K Q 8 5 3

!K 7 4

#A Q 8

28 5

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