as Mr Micawber might have said if he had been a keen player in pairs competitions: "If you can make a vulnerable game and collect 500 points, result, misery; if you can collect 800 points, result happiness." This was a deal from this year's Australian Open Pairs event in the summer festival.

With the aid of some systemic device, South had been able to show that he had a limited opening bid with a 6-4 distribution in the black suits, and a competitive auction had led East-West to Four Hearts. There they would have scored 620 points (or possibly even 650), but North chose to sacrifice in Five Clubs and East doubled.

Superficially, declarer has only four top losers and the defenders had to work hard to do better. West led the !K and the first hurdle was cleared when East overtook and switched to his singleton spade. Declarer won on the table and led a trump, but an alert East was quick to go in with his ace and put his partner in with a heart in order to collect a spade ruff.

Now, when West led the spade for the ruff, he had carefully chosen 42, a suit preference signal for the lower-ranking side suit. Without #K he would have led a much higher spade.

At rubber bridge, East might well have cashed his #A at this point to ensure a 500-point penalty, but he was well aware that this would prove insufficient. Trusting his partner, he underled his #A.

West duly won and gave his partner a second spade ruff. That was six tricks to the defenders, 800 points representing a top score after a card- perfect performance.

East-West game; dealer South


4A 10 4

!8 5 3

#J 10 7 4

29 5 4

West East

49 8 6 5 2 43

!K Q J 9 !A 10 7 6

#K Q 6 #A 9 8 5 2

26 2A 7 3


4K Q J 7

!4 2


2K Q J 10 8 2