West had a good idea for the defence on this deal, but he did not get the timing right and declarer took full advantage.

North, following the modern trend, decided that his hand warranted a weak Two Spades. South bid Three Hearts (invitational) and North, with a suitable hand, raised to game. West led 2A against Four Hearts and East signalled with his eight. West cashed 2Q and followed with 29, making it clear that East was expected to ruff high.

East obliged with !J and, after over-ruffing, declarer played his other top trump. The queen did not fall and it looked as though there were two top tricks still to be lost. There was still a chance, though, if four rounds of spades would stand up. Assuming West held !Q and at least four spades, the best bet was that 4J lay with the length.

So declarer cashed 4K and followed with a finesse of 410. Now West could not ruff until all of South's diamonds had gone away. Declarer had taken his chance well, but West might have judged that the defence needed a diamond trick as well as a trump promotion. If he leads a diamond to East's ace at trick two and East returns a club, then West can play as before to defeat the contract.

Ah, you may say, but East's 28 might have been a singleton. Perfectly true, and indeed this was West's alibi in the post-mortem.

East-West game; dealer North


4A Q 10 7 3

!10 5 3


2J 7 6 5

West East

4J 8 6 4 49 2

!Q 4 !J 2

#9 6 #A 10 8 7 5 3 2

2A K Q 10 9 28 3


4K 5

!A K 9 8 7 6

#K Q 4

24 2