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I enjoyed reading Farewell, My Dummy, by Phillip and Robert King (Batsford pounds 8.99). It consists of five short stories (or parodies) written in the styles of Jeffrey Archer, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Jane Austen, Victor Mollo, and Raymond Chandler - an odd set of book-fellows, but there you are.

This deal provided a valuable clue to help Philip Marlowe (Chandler's private eye in Farewell, My Lovely) to unravel a mystery. Would you have made the same play as Miss Velma Lamont?

Velma, as South, opened One Heart, West overcalled with One Spade, and North bid Two Spades (a high card raise in hearts). East pushed with Three Spades and seemed to have got his opponents overboard when North went on to Four Hearts.

The lead was 43 and you can see declarer's problem. If dummy plays low and South wins with the queen in order to attack trumps, West will win and switch to clubs - probably to the ten, sufficient to defeat the contract if his partner holds either 2K or #A.

But it did not go like that. Velma won the opening lead with dummy's ace, apparently creating a fifth loser for herself. Then she played on trumps and West took his ace. It was clear to him, from the play to the first trick, that his partner held 4Q and so it was automatic for him to put East in and wait for a club return and two more tricks. It was declarer, however, who unexpectedly turned up with the queen and she now had an untroubled run for an overtrick.

To find out exactly how this helped Marlowe to solve the mystery, you will have to read the book.

North-South game; dealer South

North

4A 7

!Q 8 6

#K Q 8 7 6

2J 6 5

West East

4K J 4 3 2 410 8 6 5

!A 7 !9 3 2

#4 3 2 #9 5

2A Q 10 2K 4 3 2

South

4Q 9

!K J 10 5 4

#A J 10

29 8 7

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