The bidding and early play were the same at both tables on this deal from match-play and the final contract of Four Hearts by South seemed impregnable. One East, however, conjured up a chance for the defence with a stratagem that is well worth noting.

East opened One Club and South overcalled with Four Hearts. West, held back by the vulnerability, passed and so did North - after some reflection. West dutifully led 22 and, after cashing two top clubs, East was still on lead. (Dummy, at least, looked happy; his side had certainly not missed a possible slam.)

One East, for want of anything better to do, returned a cunning !8. This did not tax declarer overmuch; he simply covered with the nine to ensure that he would lose exactly one trump trick and no more. West showed out and South claimed, conceding one more trick to East.

The other East was more imaginative - at trick three he played back 42 into the teeth of dummy's tenace! Can you see the effect this switch had on South? It had all the earmarks of a singleton and now, if he took the safety play of finessing in trumps, there seemed an acute danger that West might win with a singleton honour and give his partner a spade ruff with the outstanding trump.

The consequence was that when declarer led a trump from the table and East unconcernedly followed with his eight, he went up with his ace - hoping for a 2-1 break in the suit and avoiding all risk of a ruff. Now East came to two trump tricks to defeat the contract.

East-West game; dealer East


4A K J 10 3

!3 2

#A Q 10 4

2J 4

West East

49 8 6 5 4Q 2

!none !K Q 8

#K 9 7 6 3 #8 5 2

210 6 5 2 2A K Q 8 7


47 4

!A J 10 9 7 6 5 4


29 3