Bridge

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Concluding our report on the Christmas competition, these were the last two questions: 4. At love-all, the bidding has gone as follows: West North East South 1NT pass 22 dble 2! pass pass 24

pass pass 3! pass pass dble pass 42

dble pass pass pass West's 1NT showed 12-14 points, East's Two Clubs was Stayman and South's double showed clubs. The problem was to choose an opening lead from the West hand which was: 4 A 8

! Q J 10 5

pounds K 6 4 2

2 K 10 3

Opening leads always require some guesswork and you may consider me a "results merchant" when I suggest that the two of diamonds is best. Consider: North's double of Three Hearts suggests a dislike for both of his partner's suits and the natural looking lead of the queen of hearts may well allow declarer to discard a losing diamond from hand. The ace of spades is almost sure to help declarer, while the lead of a trump may cost either a trick or a tempo.

These were the North-South hands: North South 45 4 4 K Q J 7 2

!A 8 4 3 ! none pounds Q J 10 9 8 pounds 2

24 2 2 A Q J 8 7 6 5

A diamond to the ace and a trump return is by far the best defence. Answer: the two of diamonds.

5. These were West and East: West East 4 A Q 4 4 K J 3

! Q 5 2 ! A K 7 3

pounds A K Q 4 pounds 7 6 3

2 A K 9 2 Q 5 4

West plays in 7NT against the lead of the ten of spades. The problem was: after winning, which suit should he play first?

Answer: hearts. The point is this: if either red suit divides evenly there are 13 tricks. Equally, if either defender holds four or more cards in both of these suits, he will be squeezed when the black suit winners are cashed. Declarer gains an extra edge by testing the hearts first! Suppose South had started with, say, 46 5 2 !9 4 pounds 10 8 5 2 210 8 6 3. Now nothing works (no good breaks, no genuine squeeze); although South can safely throw a spade on the third heart, two more rounds of spades leave him guessing which to part with: diamond or club.

Prizes of a year's subscription to Games & Puzzles magazine to Graham Sadie (Cheltenham) F R Springett (Gosforth) and D Haynes (Cranleigh).

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