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North-South bid this deal merrily enough and reached a very fair slam. The declarer considered himself unlucky to go down, but he had missed quite an easy way of improving his chances.

South opened One Diamond (although with this distribution there was a case for the prepared opening of One Heart) and North responded Two Clubs. This in no way improved South's hand and, well short of reversing values, he contented himself with a cautious rebid of Two Diamonds. When North raised to Three Diamonds, however. South brightened up and advanced with Three Hearts. North's hearts now looked good and he jumped to Five Diamonds. With a control in spades, South bid one for the road.

West led !J against Six Diamonds and dummy's ace won. Trumps were drawn in two rounds and declarer continued with !K and a heart ruff. A 3-3 heart break would have allowed him to discard dummy's spades with a trump still on the table but the 4-2 break meant that dummy's last trump had to be used to establish the hearts. South was still able to try a spade to his king, but West turned up with the ace and the slam failed.

The chance that South missed was to bring down 2A in three rounds. The correct sequence of play is !A, club ruff (and remember, even if the ace is not due to come down, East might lose his nerve and play it on this trick), #A, #K and a second club ruff. Then comes !K and a heart ruff for the next club lead collects the ace, establishing dummy's king for the vital spade discard in hand. One more heart ruff on the table completes the story.

East-West game; dealer South


47 5

!A 4

#K 9 7 6

2K 8 5 3 2

West East

4A Q 10 4J 9 8 6 3 2

!J 10 9 7 !Q 5

#J #4 3

2Q 10 9 7 4 2A J 6


4K 4

!K 8 6 3 2

#A Q 10 8 5 2