Saturday 17 August 1996
North opened 1# and South responded 1!. A seven-card suit is always exciting, and North rated his hand as worth a rebid of 3#. As there was no clear route ahead, South bid 3NT and all passed.
West led 2J and declarer could see problems in establishing the long diamond suit. If he continued with a low diamond to the jack, it might be possible for both defenders to hold off. Then, with only two outside entries to the table, the suit could not be used.
It seemed a little better to rely on a 3-2 break in diamonds, so declarer led #Q from dummy at trick two. Then, with the lead still on the table, it would not matter if both defenders held off. It did not work out like that. West won the diamond lead but, when the suit broke 4-1, it could not be brought in and South made only eight tricks.
A better chance was to come to hand with !A first and then lead #J. Can you see the point? If West has to win with a singleton honour, the diamonds can be used and, if West is able to play low, declarer can overtake and rely on a 3-2 break in the suit.
It may look dangerous to release !A, but South's hearts are just good enough. If East wins a diamond lead and plays hearts, South simply covers whatever is led, and can lose at most two tricks in the suit.
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