Bridge

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"I suppose that at the top level the bidding and play of a hand in a multiple teams event are pretty well standard," a correspondent wrote to me.

I wouldn't go as far as that. The most diligent research has not revealed any two identical auctions in this wild deal from the Generali European Championships. And, counting both the Open and the Ladies' event, it was played at 58 tables. But I must apologise if I have missed a pair of twins.

Some aggressive Wests started the action with a mini no-trump (10-12 points). Well, they had a five-card suit, I suppose. When West passed, North opened variously with One Spade, Two Spades, Three Spades or a Multi Two Diamonds, to leave East-West with near-insoluble problems when South was able to raise spades pre-emptively.

And the results? Wow! Six Clubs by West simply had two losers; diamond contracts by East collapsed against the 5-0 trump break after a spade lead; a heart slam by East failed after the lead of ace and another diamond. North-South did well in spades, making Four Spades doubled when they guessed the trumps.

Now here is your problem: What is the absolute par on this hand? I make it for North to play in Six Spades doubled, minus two, losing 300 points. Why so high, you may ask - for apparently East-West cannot make a slam. Ah, but try Six Hearts played by West.

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