There was some intricate play in 3NT at both tables on this deal. After the lead, nine tricks were available as the cards lay, but there were communication problems in getting to them.

South opened 1#, North responded 14, and South rebid 22. North explored with 2! and raised South's 2NT to game. West led !10, conventionally suggesting two higher honours.

This ran round to the king and declarer took a successful spade finesse. She came back to hand with a top diamond and led another heart (banking all on finding East with 2A). Alert to the prospect of hampering South's communications, West took her ace and returned #J. South won, repeated the spade finesse and tried 4A, discarding a diamond. No joy, but East had reluctantly parted with !9. Next came !Q from dummy and East was in trouble. If he parted with a club, declarer could throw a diamond and follow with 2K to establish three tricks in the suit for, by now, East was out of touch with his partner's major suit winners. If, instead, he let a diamond go, South could release a club and, after 2K had lost, be able to come to a long diamond. Luckily, (I was East) declarer misread the ending and ended a trick short.

At the other table South tried a different approach. After the same play to the first two tricks, he led 24 from dummy! East had to play low and, after winning in hand, declarer next led a heart. Whether West won or ducked, there were still two quick entries in diamonds and the 2K established a second winner in the suit (with access!). Finally another spade finesse brought home the ninth trick.

Game all; dealer South


4A Q J 4 3

!Q 8 7 6

#7 2

2K 4

West East

4K 8 7 6 410 2

!A J 10 4 !9 3 2

#J 9 #Q 8 4 3

25 3 2 2A 10 9 8


49 5

!K 5

#A K 10 6 5

2Q J 7 6