Pursuits: Bridge

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"YOU MISSED the last train!" remarked South cheerfully, as he inspected dummy on this deal. Three less bridge-literate players looked puzzled and declarer, after the opening lead, looked happy.

South opened One Spade and rebid Three Spades over his partner's response of Two Hearts. Wishing to make progress but with no first-round controls that could unambiguously be shown, North tried Four Clubs (possibly Five Spades was an alternative?). Now South, also ambitious (although I cannot think why) was afraid that a cue bid in hearts might be taken as showing support. He improvised with a bid of Four Diamonds! He had read somewhere that, with no bidding space left below the game level, this merely showed interest (still below game!) and was described as a "last train" effort. An uncomprehending North took the bid at face value and went on to Six Spades.

Clearly a diamond lead would have scuppered the contract out of hand, but West led a trump. Declarer won, cashed !K, and entered dummy twice with trumps to ruff low hearts. The 5-2 break, however, put paid to his chances of establishing his 12th trick by force. There remained one possibility. East would be forced to retain his hearts and, if he held two of the three missing diamond honours, he would be subject to pressure.

With this in mind, South played off his remaining trumps and followed with three rounds of clubs. East now had to discard from !Q10 #AJ. If he parted with #J he could be thrown in to lead a heart, so he made a good try by discarding #A. Now came #Q from dummy, pinning East's jack, and South's ten and nine both became tricks. It was a good example of what is called a "winkle" squeeze.

Love all; dealer South

North

4Q 10 9

!A J 9 6 4

#Q 7

2K Q 10

West East

45 4 3 2 4none

!3 2 !Q 10 8 7 5

#K 8 5 3 #A J 2

28 6 5 29 7 4 3 2

South

4A K J 8 7 6

!K

#10 9 6 4

2A J

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