Independent Pursuits: Bridge

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BOTH NORTH and East had exciting plans in mind for developing the bidding on this deal when South opened One Spade, but neither was given much scope when West overcalled with Four Hearts. A double, followed by a totally accurate defence, via a trump promotion, could have led to a penalty of 1,100 points but North decided to go for the big money by raising to Six Spades. That kept East quiet. As the play developed, South made two bad errors - can you spot them both?

First, the events at the table. West led !K against the slam and dummy's ace was ruffed - the first setback. East returned a low diamond and, forced to finesse, South breathed a sigh of relief when dummy's ten won. With the general plan of ruffing his losing clubs on the table, declarer cashed 2A, came to hand with the king of trumps, ruffed a club, returned to 4Q, and trumped another club. At this point South could ruff a heart in hand and draw the last trump but this would have left him with a losing diamond. Accordingly he repeated the diamond finesse, but now West was able to ruff and defeat the contract. When you think about it, it was not a very good plan, for as West had already shown up with three spades, seven hearts, a diamond and two clubs, there was not much room for a second diamond...

Declarer's first mistake lay in playing !A at trick 1. After allowing West's !K to win, he can ruff another heart lead and now has plenty of time to draw trumps and later finesse in diamonds. Later, as the play had started and the diamond finesse had succeeded, a dummy reversal would have averted the danger of the second (and fatal) ruff. He should have ruffed a heart in hand at trick three, crossed to 2A, and ruffed another heart. Dummy is re-entered with a trump and a third heart ruffed. Now South can overtake his last spade in dummy, draw West's remaining trump and, with the lead on the table, finesse safely in diamonds to land his contract.

North-South game; dealer South


4A J 9 5

!A 8 6 3 2

#J 10 4


West East

48 6 3 42

!K Q J 10 9 5 4 !none

#7 #K 9 8 5 3 2

2J 8 2Q 10 9 5 4 2


4K Q 10 7 4


#A Q 6

2K 7 6 3