When defending against a low-level contract, it is not always a good idea to play a forcing game. There is the very real danger that declarer will happily accept the forces and, as a result, scramble a surprising number of tricks.

West opened One No-trump (12-14 points) and both North and East passed. Somewhat dangerously, in view of their vulnerability, South joined in with Two Spades and, after two more passes, East doubled. Tempting enough, I dare say, with top cards in defence and the certainty that his side held a large majority of the points, but it did not work out well.

West led !K and both the defenders smiled at the sight of the apparently helpless dummy - surely a huge penalty was coming their way. West continued hearts and, after ruffing the third round, declarer cashed three top clubs, ending in dummy and breathing a sigh of relief when all followed suit. Next he ruffed dummy's last heart in hand. That was five tricks in the bag and now South got off lead with a diamond.

West took his two diamond winners but was then reduced to leading a trump. After winning, declarer exited with a third round of diamonds and West, with only trumps left, had to ruff and concede the last two tricks.

West would have done better not to persist with hearts at the beginning but East was certainly not blameless either. He could have beaten the contract by overtaking the second round of diamonds and leading a third one. Overtaking the opening lead and switching to trumps would also have proved effective.

North-South game; dealer West



!10 7 6 4

#10 7 4 2

2Q 6 3 2

West East

4J 8 6 3 4K 9 4

!K Q J 3 !A 9 8

#K Q #A 9 5 3

2J 10 4 29 7 5


4A Q 10 7 5

!5 2

#J 8 6

2A K 8