Love all; dealer South


4A 10 8 5

!A J 5

#Q 5 3

2Q 6 5

West East

4Q 4 4J 7 3

!Q 10 8 4 !2

#10 9 #A 8 7 6 4 2

210 8 7 4 2 2A J 9


4K 9 6 2

!K 9 7 6 3

#K J

2K 3

South made a good start on this deal and reached a position in which, if he could guess which defender held the ace of clubs, he was home. He followed a losing line, but had he missed a clue?

South opened 1! and, playing five card majors, North raised directly to 4!. West led the #10 and East, after taking his ace, returned the 2 to the K, 9 and 5.

Declarer was well aware of the safety play in trumps (cash the A then, after crossing to hand, lead low towards the J - guaranteeing four tricks in the suit against any 4-1 break) but the opening lead has all the hallmarks of a short suit. Instead, he finessed the !J successfully and cashed the ace to discover the bad break.

There was now the danger of losing a trick in all four suits. As East had turned up with one ace, declarer came to hand with a third trump and led a low club. All would have been well if West had held the ace - a "Morton's Fork" situation, for if West ducked, the losing club would go away; and if he took his ace there would be no spade loser.

No joy, for East turned up with the 2A and four tricks were lost. Now, what about East's return of the #2 at trick two? Did this not smack of a suit preference signal in case his partner had led a singleton? Playing East instead of West for the 2A would certainly have succeeded.