Bridge

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Six Diamonds, which North-South had reached, would have been a relatively straightforward affair but, at the favourable vulnerability, East sacrificed. In an attempt to preserve their slam bonus, North put his partner into the more delicate contract of Six Spades, where the diamond suit needed careful handling.

South opened One Spade, West overcalled with Three Hearts (weak) and North doubled negatively. East tried a whimsical Four No-trumps but, undeterred, South showed his diamonds at the Five level and was raised to the slam by his partner. Now East tried Six Hearts (which would have cost 1,100 points) but North closed the auction with a conversion to Six Spades.

West led 210 against the spade slam and, although at first sight it looked as though the contract would depend on a 2-2 diamond break with the king right, South saw a way to improve his chances. After winning in hand, he drew trumps in three rounds and carefully led #6 to finesse the queen successfully. Then came #A and, when East showed out, declarer continued the unblocking process by following with the seven.

Then came the second high club - a vital step to remove West's last safe exit card - and finally #8, losing to West's king. With only hearts left, West forlornly played !A but, after ruffing, declarer was able to cross to dummy with his carefully preserved three of diamonds to the four. Then he cashed the newly established !K to discard his losing club.

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