Bridge purists will argue about anything. My opinion on how South should play 5# on this deal was requested.

It did not matter, apparently, which line in fact succeeded and which failed; it was just a question of the "best play". I like to think that I am more pragmatic in my approach ...

North, not unreasonably, had opened with a conventional 22 and South had made the negative response of 2#. This explains how South became declarer in the final contract of 5#. West led the 2A, studied dummy, cashed the !K and switched to a trump.

There were 10 top tricks and something had to be done about the fourth round of spades. At the table, declarer had played off three rounds of spades at once, East had ruffed the third and that was that. South's argument - not a bad one at all - was that if the missing spades broke 3-3, he was home and dry and could draw the outstanding trump. By playing the spades first, he had given himself the extra chance of finding either opponent with four or more spades and both of the outstanding trumps.

The alternative play was to rattle off six more rounds of trumps, leaving dummy with 4A,K,6,3 and declarer with 4Q,7,2 2J. Do you see the point? If West (who presumably had started with 2K) also held four or more spades, he would be squeezed and, of course, if the missing spades broke evenly anyhow, there would be no problem.

I gave my casting vote to the second (successful) line on the grounds that it is aesthetically far more pleasing to make a contract with the aid of a squeeze than by sheer brute force.

East-West game; dealer North


4A K 6 3


#A K Q J 10 8 6


West East

4J 9 8 4 410 5

!K Q 3 !A 10 9 8 6

#7 3 #9 5

2A K 10 4 29 7 6 2


4Q 7 2

!7 5 4 2

#4 2

2J 8 5 3