Bridge

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Game all; dealer West

North

4A 8 6 5 3

!10 3

#J 9

2A 10 6 3

West East

4Q 9 4K J 10

!J 9 8 4 !2

#Q 7 5 #K 10 8 4 3

2Q 9 8 2 2K J 7 5

South

47 4 2

!A K Q 7 6 5

#A 6 2

24

If the literature is to be believed, hasty play to the first trick is the cause of more disasters at the bridge table than anything else. Declarer at this deal got the play to trick one right - it was not difficult! - but followed it by going wrong almost immediately, at his next opportunity.

South opened 1!, North bid 14, and South (pushing just a little) rebid 3!. North raised to game and West led 22 against 4!. It all looked too easy to South now that he had escaped a potentially damaging trump lead - a diamond ruff on the table, six trumps and three side aces added up to 10 tricks. After winning the lead with dummy's ace (correct!) declarer led #9 and allowed East's 10 to win in preparation for the diamond ruff. The expected trump came back but, after winning and ruffing his losing diamond, declarer found to his irritation that there was still a trump to lose as well as the two obvious spades.

Well, was South just unlucky? Or could he have taken precautions against a possible 4-1 trump break? From the lead it was likely that the opposing clubs broke 4-4. It would hardly have cost anything to ruff a club in hand at trick two before ducking a diamond. You can see the effect - as before East wins the diamond and returns a trump but, after ruffing his losing diamond, South comes back to hand with another club ruff.

Another top trump exposes the bad break, but now declarer can cross to 4A and ruff yet another club. As a result he will have made seven tricks from the trump suit in spite of the bad break, effectively taking his 10 winners before his opponents could come to their four.

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