West complained bitterly about his partner's defence on this recent slam hand, but declarer was able to pour oil on troubled waters by explaining why West's suggested alternative would not have been of any help.

South opened 14 and, in the modern style, with neither a fit for his partner nor an independent suit of his own, North did not force but contented himself with 2#. South scientifically showed his heart "suit" and North explored with 32, the fourth suit. When South now bid 3NT, it was clear there was not good suit fit, and North raised to 6NT.

West led 2J and, after winning with the ace, declarer started on hearts. East won the first round and returned 49 but now South had an easy run. Two more top hearts revealed the bad break as West reluctantly parted with two diamonds. Now the three top diamonds, on which South threw a spade and a heart, left West with an impossible discard and he had to unguard one of the black suits.

Can you see the grounds for West's complaint? If his partner simply allows the first two rounds of hearts to win, he claimed, he would be under no pressure as the timing would be wrong for any squeeze to operate. True enough, but once declarer had been allowed to make the heart tricks, he would simply test the spades and, when West proved to have four, quietly concede a spade. With the defenders no longer having access to their !A, this would establish a twelfth trick by brute force.