It looks as though the Four Spades reached by North-South on this deal was cast iron. How could declarer lose more than two diamonds and a club? But it did not work out like that.

After two passes East opened 1#and South, in the modern style, overcalled with 14 rather than make an off-beat double. West passed and North bid 2#, suggesting a raise to at least 24, based on high cards rather than distribution. This was enough for South to jump directly to 44 without showing his second suit.

West's standard lead would have been #3 but instead he chose #9, with far-reaching effects. East took his top two diamonds (West following with the three) and continued with a third round. It seemed clear to declarer that West had started with only a doubleton diamond and he ruffed high with 410. It was irritating when West followed suit with the jack and even more annoying when East now had a trump trick to come, and a club loser proved to be inevitable.

"It works very well!" East commented after his side had collected their 100 points, "this idea of leading MUD [Middle-Up-Down]" - in other words, the middle card from three.

This left everyone puzzled, for MUD applies only when leading from three low cards in a suit. Did West know what he was doing, and envisage a possible trump "promotion"? Or had he misunderstood the theory of MUD? We shall never know, for he refused to clarify his motives.

It is worth noting that if, playing West for only a doubleton diamond, declarer ruffs with his ace, cashes !Q, and leads a spade to the nine in the hope of discarding all three of his losing clubs, East can foil him by winning and quietly returning a trump.

North-South game; dealer West


4J 9 3

!A K J 3

#8 7 5

2J 6 2

West East

42 4K 8 7 6

!10 8 7 6 5 4 !9 2

#J 9 3 #A K 10 6 4

2Q 7 4 210 3


4A Q 10 5 4


#Q 2

2A K 9 8 5