Independent Pursuits: Bridge

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A FORTUNATE choice of opening lead by West and a slight misjudgement by declarer led to the defeat of 3NT on this deal.

South opened 1NT (12-14 points), North forced to game with Three Spades but, with only a doubleton spade, South felt bound to repeat his suggestion of no-trumps. All passed, and West, on lead against 3NT, judged that declarer (with his advertised spade shortage) might well hold four diamonds, and he chose #3 rather than a top diamond for his opening salvo.

South won East's eight with his 10, and it was clear that he should try to keep East off lead. First he tested the hearts by cashing the ace and king but, when the queen failed to drop, he decided to risk the spade finesse rather than hope that West had started with precisely !Q76. This was not a success - East won, and the defenders took the next five tricks as well.

Certainly declarer was right not to finesse in spades immediately, but he had overlooked a better possibility in hearts. Suppose he crosses to dummy with a club at trick two and runs !9 round to West? This loses to the 10 and, presumably, West switches to a spade, for another diamond would give declarer his ninth trick. After winning with dummy's ace, South finesses !8 - effectively giving himself a 75 per cent chance instead of a slightly better-than-even-money bet.

Love all; dealer South

North

4A Q 10 7 4

!J 9 3

#5

2K Q J 4

West East

48 6 3 4K 5 2

!10 7 6 !Q 5 4

#A K J 3 2 #9 8 6

29 7 210 8 5 2

South

4J 9

!A K 8 2

#Q 10 7 4

2A 6 3

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