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This was a deal from a recent pairs event and the usual contract was Five Diamonds by South. (West had pre-empted to the limit with Four Spades over the opening bid and North, under pressure, felt that he had to support diamonds.) A couple of Souths bid "one for the road", but the diamond slam offered no real play.

The defence against the game started with two top spades and, after ruffing and drawing trumps in two rounds, declarer was faced with the problem of avoiding losers in both hearts and clubs.

Perhaps the simplest approach, which was adopted by half of the field, was to play off both top hearts. Fine, if !Q fell in two (no heart loser) and also when the hearts were 3-3 (no club loser). As you can guess, when East won his queen on the third round, he was quick to play a fourth. Then all he had to do was keep his clubs and the contract failed.

The remaining declarers tried a different (and better!) approach. After drawing trumps, they led a low heart from hand immediately. Now the contract makes (as before) whenever the hearts divide evenly and also when West has started with the queen, protected or not.

It looks as though this line is doomed as well but, after !J had lost to the queen, declarer played off three more rounds of trumps. You can see the effect - East could not guard both hearts and clubs.

Love all; dealer South


4Q 3

!J 5 2

#A K 8 7 5

28 6 2

West East

4A K J 9 7 5 4 410 8 6

!8 6 !Q 10 9 4

#3 2 #9

2J 9 2Q 10 7 5 3



!A K 7 3

#Q J 10 6 4

2A K 4