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The Independent Online
East-West's bidding barrage hustled North-South too high on this deal. It looks the simplest thing to defeat 6! but the defenders lost all the advantage they had gained in the bidding and more when they muddled the defence.

At favourable vulnerability, West opened an aggressive 4#. Not to be outdone, North overcalled with 44 and East competed with 5#. Reduced to guesswork, South plunged to 6! and all passed.

The #A would have been a very successful lead, but West chose the 23. The king went to the ace but, in spite of this reprieve, there was no way for declarer to get quickly to dummy. Without much hope, he led the !Q from hand and this lost to the ace.

Now East started to think - always good news for declarer! Was it possible that South held either the ace or a void in diamonds and that West had struck the only defence by leading away from the 2Q? Certainly he held an honour in clubs but it might be the ten and not the queen. Time ticked by and eventually East played a second club. Now South was home: after winning, he crossed to the !4 and took discards on the spades.

After the opening lead, East's problems were of his own making. His partner held the ten or the queen of clubs but assuredly not the ace. East should have played the jack at trick one. When this loses to the queen, he will know that the only chance lies in finding South with a diamond loser.