Today sees the start of the "Macallan International Pairs" in London, and the chance to watch many of the world's top pairs in action. Undoubtedly to the relief of spectators, the players are restricted to natural bidding systems!

This was a deal from one of the very early years of the tournament. Believe it or not, two rather distinguished declarers got things wrong, I like to think that if the hand came along today, they would all get it right.

The bidding went on these lines: South opened with One Club, West overcalled with One Spade and North raised to Two Clubs. After Two Spades from East, South jumped to Three No-trumps. All passed, and West led 46. Clearly, declarer needed tricks in both minor suits. Which one should he tackle first?

There are two important cards missing (#K and 2A) and surely East has one of them to justify his raise. If he has #K (and West the 2A) it does not matter. However, if it is 2A that East holds, it is vital to take the diamond finesse first. If it loses, the next spade is ducked and East can do no harm when in with 2A. But playing the suits in the wrong order allows East to clear the spades while West still has #K as an entry.

The Macallan International Pairs Championship, at the White House Hotel (nr Great Portland Street Tube) starts at 5.30pm today. Tomorrow at 12pm- 4pm and 5.30pm-11pm; Friday at 12.30pm-6pm. Tickets at the door.

Apology: We are sorry for the misprints that have bedevilled several Bridge columns in recent months. We hope that the cause has now been identified and that such errors will be avoided in future. Thank you for your patience.

Love all; dealer South


4Q 10

!7 3

#Q J 10 9 8

2Q 10 9 6

West East

4K J 8 6 4 49 7 5

!10 8 5 !Q J 9 6 4

#K 4 3 2 #6

24 2A 7 5 3


4A 3 2

!A K 2

#A 7 5

2K J 8 2