Bridge

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Love all; dealer South

North

4 5 4

! J 4 2

pounds J 10 9 3

2 A 10 6 2

West East

4 10 9 8 2 4 K 7 6 3

! A 6 5 ! Q 10 3

pounds A Q 5 2 pounds K 8 6

2 K 7 2 Q 5 4

South

4 A Q J

! K 9 8 7

pounds 7 4

2 J 9 8 3

The mini no-trump (10-12) at favourable vulnerability is now a widely used tournament weapon at all levels of play. Long-toothed readers may recollect an article I wrote more than 30 years ago introducing its charms to an unsuspecting public. It still seems to work, as today's deal demonstrates.

South duly opened One No-trump and West doubled. (Unsoundly, but the mini is like a red rag to a bull for many players.) All passed, but East wore the happiest smile.

Declarer was off to a good start when West led the ten of spades and East contributed his king. A club finesse lost to East, who returned a spade to the queen and, when the king appeared on the second round of clubs, South could see six tricks. There was, however, more to come.

When declarer cashed his two club winners, West parted with one heart and one diamond. Next came a diamond from hand and, after winning with his queen, West cleared the spades. This proved to be a fatal mistake, for, after winning, South had a safe diamond exit. The defenders could take their spade trick and two more diamonds, but this left everybody with just two hearts.

It did not matter whether it was then East or West on lead - South now came to a heart trick for his contract.

Perhaps it was not at all easy to judge at the table but, after winning the first diamond, the defenders must cash one (or two) tricks in the suit before establishing their spades. This leaves declarer on lead to play hearts and he loses two tricks in the suit.

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