"Failure to see the wood for the trees" is an old saying that is often apt at the bridge table. In Six Spades on this deal South was more concerned about avoiding two losers than taking 12 tricks.

South opened One Club, North responded One Heart, and South rebid One Spade (forcing in his methods). Feeling that he was too good for a direct raise to game in spades, North temporised with Two Diamonds - the fourth suit. When South jumped to Three No-trumps, North finally supported spades and, getting the message, South went on to the slam via Blackwood.

West led 2Q against Six Spades; declarer won, crossed to dummy with 4A, and finessed 4J. When West showed out, South knew that he had a sure trump loser to go with his losing club.

It seemed that the only way to avoid the club loser was to discard a club from dummy on a diamond, so South crossed to #K and finessed #J. When this lost there was no escape and he was one down.

There was a better way for South to approach the problem. After discovering the trump loser, he should play off three rounds of hearts and his other top club. Then comes #K, #A, and a diamond ruff on the table. At this point South will have taken ten tricks and by leading a heart from dummy he can ensure making both of his trumps whether East follows or not. As the cards lie, East's trump winner and his partner's master club fall together on the last trick. Furthermore, if East had been able to ruff a top heart earlier, declarer would still have had the diamond finesse in reserve.

Love all; dealer South


4A 7 4 2

!A Q 7 4

#K 6

28 5 2

West East

46 4Q 10 9 3

!J 9 3 !10 8 5 2

#Q 10 8 5 3 #9 7 2

2Q J 10 9 27 6


4K J 8 5

!K 6

#A J 4

2A K 4 3