It seems odd that the best defence against 3NT on this deal from match play consisted of attacking declarer's long suits, but it certainly worked remarkably well.

At one table, South opened 2NT - perfectly reasonable but perhaps not everyone's choice - and North bid 3! (a transfer to spades). South dutifully bid 34 and North, having shown five spades, went back to 3NT, not wishing the bidding to get too high by showing his second suit.

All passed and West led !J. Dummy's queen won and East had a critical discard to find (to declarer's surprise!). His choice of 27 proved an intelligent move, suggesting an even number of cards in the suit.

With one entry to dummy taken away, South started on clubs. When West won, it was the second crisis for the defenders. Consider what happens, for example, if West leads a red suit: South wins, unblocks the clubs, and has a spade entry to the two club winners on the table. West got it right by making the unlikely switch to 42! By now East was aware of the position and he ducked, effectively killing dummy.

It was all over now, and South found himself restricted to one spade, three hearts, two diamonds and two clubs, which all added up to one off.

At the other table, playing a Strong Club system, North-South wound their way to 44 played by South after a bidding sequence that was shrouded in mystery. Again the defence was with it. West cashed 2A and switched to a heart; a most unexpected ruff was followed by a club ruff but now the defenders had run out of steam and could only come to the ace of trumps. Again it was a one-trick defeat and, as a result, a flat board. It was exciting, though, was it not?