Pursuits: Bridge

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The Independent Culture
IN A good slam on this deal, South's first plan turned out to be unfeasible and he fell back on what he described as "the best percentage play". This also failed, perhaps a little unluckily, but can you spot the winning line that he missed?

North opened One Diamond, East overcalled with One Heart, and South (quite practically) decided to force to game with Two Spades - reasoning that he might well find it difficult to catch up if he bid only One Spade. North, with his excellent controls, was happy to co-operate; the final contract was Six Spades against which West led the two of hearts.

Declarer's first idea was a good one - he planned to draw trumps in two rounds, eliminate the hearts and clubs, and end-play East by finessing the ten of diamonds. Then East would have to concede a ruff and discard or return a diamond. However, when the trumps proved to be 3-0, this was no longer an option because of West's nine of spades, for East would be able to exit safely with a heart. Declarer fell back on repeated finesses in diamonds and so failed.

Any ideas? Try exactly five rounds of trumps, discarding two diamonds from dummy. East must keep all of his diamonds and so has to make five other discards. Now, only now, declarer ruffs both a heart and a club in his own hand. This reduces North, East and South to three diamonds apiece and, finally, a finesse of the ten of diamonds end-plays East. It would have been an unusual combination of a squeeze without the count and an end-play.