Pursuits: Bridge

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The Independent Culture
SIX-FIVE DISTRIBUTIONS are always exciting and West looked forward to the auction on this deal. Was there a slam on for his side, he speculated, or would he be reduced to an unusual no-trump overcall at some level? He was in for a disappointment (he took his harp to the party, but...) for, after a pass by North, his partner opened Three Hearts and South overcalled with Four Spades. (Three no-trumps would have been my nap selection - I would have been prepared to forgo the 100 for honours.)

This was frustrating for West - he passed and led a trump against Four Spades. Now declarer was faced with at least four losers. Apparently West held no hearts to lead and so the king of hearts might be a trick, but there was no entry to dummy. Furthermore, the ace of clubs seemed sure to be with West.

There was, however, the chance of compelling West to give dummy the lead. South drew a second round of trumps and followed with the king of clubs from hand. West took his ace and cashed the queen but was now in some difficulty. Another club would allow South to discard a diamond and play hearts from the table, so West tried a small diamond. The ten was covered by the queen and ace, but now another diamond finished West. Whatever he led, South was able to discard both of his losing hearts.

Can you come to West's rescue? No, not in the bidding - he could hardly be criticised. But after he had cashed the queen of clubs and had been reduced to leading diamonds, the king would have been a far better proposition than a low one. If declarer ducks, West has a safe diamond exit to South's now bare ace. And if South wins and plays another diamond, it is East who gains the lead and can cash the ace of hearts for the setting trick.

Game all; dealer North


44 2

!6 5 3 2

#J 10 4

2J 9 6 3

West East

47 5 410 8

!none !A Q J 9 8 7 4

#K 9 7 6 3 2 #Q 5

2A Q 10 7 2 28 4


4A K Q J 9 6 3

!K 10

#A 8

2K 5