Independent Pursuits: Bridge

THIS DEAL, from a recent pairs tournament, proved curiously deceptive. Superficially Four Spades is a contract with only three certain losers (a heart, a diamond and a trump) but the majority of the field found ways in which to go down. Desmond Deery, the former Irish international, was one of the few declarers to get home.

This was the auction at most tables: 12 (1#) 14; 22 - 2!; 24 - 3!; 44 - pass, and West led a diamond. Declarer ruffed the diamond continuation and now opinions diverged. Some Souths crossed to 4K and finessed 4J successfully only to see West show out. Now the hand was out of control and the contract failed. Others attempted to make something of their heart suit, and this was no triumph either.

Desmond's line had the virtue of simplicity. At trick three he crossed to dummy with a top club (not the king of spades) and finessed 4J immediately. When this held, he cashed 4A to discover the 4-1 trump break, but now he simply abandoned trumps and started to run the clubs. At some point East ruffed with his sure trump trick, but now it was all over. Dummy's 4K was still there as an entry to the remaining clubs, and it drew the last trump at the same time.

I am sure on reflection that this was probably the best way of tackling the hand but, perhaps tactlessly, I asked Desmond why he chose it in preference to the alternatives. With a twinkle in his Irish eyes, he admitted that East's final double of Four Spades might - just - have influenced him. He had not told me about the double...