Friday 23 August 1996
South opened a conventional 22 and rebid 2NT over his partner's negative reply of 2#. North raised confidently to game and all passed.
With the feeling that his partner held very little and that it would not matter very much if he was deceived, West deliberately led his fifth highest diamond against 3NT. It worked out in a way that he could not have foreseen.
South held off the first diamond and won the second. Rather than risk any finesses, he thought that he could see a fool-proof way of end-playing West. He cashed four rounds of clubs, throwing a diamond from hand, and West, thinking quickly, parted with 42.
Now declarer got off lead with #9 from the table. He planned to throw a spade and a heart on the last two diamonds and, with West on lead, a ninth trick would come from the forced spade or heart return. West, however, was able to cash three diamonds, not just two, and the third left South in difficulties for a discard. He guessed wrongly when he parted with 4Q. West exited with 4K and later came to a heart trick.
Did you spot declarer's real mistake? It lay in cashing the thirteenth club. If he instead exits with a diamond at trick six, he has one fewer discard to find and the end-play works whether West has started with four diamonds or five.
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