Bridge

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Love all; dealer South

North

4none

!Q 10 6

#A K J 9 7 4

2Q J 8 7

West East

4A 8 7 2 46 5 4 3

!K 8 5 3 !J 9 7 2

#10 6 5 3 #Q 2

22 29 4 3

South

4K Q J 10 9

!A 4

#8

2A K 10 6 5

I had a golden opportunity to enhance my reputation as a fearless opening leader when this deal was presented to me as a problem. Imagine that you are West and that you have heard the bidding (unopposed) go: 14-2#; 32-42; 4!-5NT; 72-pass. Against some opponents you would simply cash the ace of spades but you are told that this North-South pair knew exactly what they were doing.

Suppose that West makes a peaceful trump lead. Declarer makes his contract easily enough by drawing trumps and eventually falling back on the ruffing finesse in spades.

Now the bidding has given a number of clues. The only logical explanation of North's activities was that he was void in spades and, after hearing his partner's heart cue bid, was only interested in whether South held both 2A and 2K.

So how would declarer play if he was faced with the lead of 48? (Or, as a chess writer might put it, 48!?) Without a doubt, he would place East with 4A and so reject the ruffing finesse. To use the diamond suit, he would have to draw trumps and that would leave him needing six tricks from the diamonds where his best bet would be to take a first-round finesse of the jack.

I impressed my audience by finding the lead of 48 almost immediately but, being an honest player, I had to admit that I had been shown the full hand earlier in the day by a West who had hopefully started with 4A at the table.

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