Bridge

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Game all; dealer South

North

4A 5

!8 7 6

#A 7 5 4 2

2K 7 6

West East

4J 9 6 3 410 8 4

!4 3 !K Q J 10 9

#10 9 8 6 3 #K J

2J 3 25 4 2

South

4K Q 7 3

!A 5 2

#Q

2A Q 10 9 8

Six Clubs was a fair contract on this deal, even if you do not approve of the route taken to get there, but declarer overlooked the best line of play and ended by taking a wrong guess.

South opened 12, North responded 1#, East bid 1!, and South rebid 14. A peaceful start, but now North went to 32 and South jumped to Six. West led !4 against the slam and as there was the danger of a second round ruff declarer won immediately. There was no chance to establish the diamond suit and South decided that he needed two ruffs in dummy to come to his twelve tricks.

Without touching trumps, declarer started with the three top spades, throwing a heart from the table. Then he gave up a heart to East, who continued the suit for dummy to ruff. South came to hand with #A and a diamond ruff, then led his last spade. When West followed suit, however, declarer had a problem. Should he play East or West for the missing 2J? He had a fair count of the distribution by now and judged that East held three clubs and West only two. So he ruffed the fourth spade with 2K and finessed 210. West won with 2J to defeat the slam.

What was the better approach that South missed? Instead of giving up a heart at trick five, he should play the fourth spade immediately. When West follows, dummy's last heart is thrown (a loser-on-loser play) and now two hearts can safely be ruffed low in dummy.

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