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Game all; dealer South


4A 5 2

!K 10 8

#J 10 5 3

2K 10 7

West East

4K 10 9 8 7 3 4J

!A 7 4 !6 5 3 2

#2 #9 7 6 4

2A 9 5 28 6 3 2


4Q 6 4

!Q J 9

#A K Q 8

2Q J 4

Without doubt North could have taken a safe penalty on this deal but he decided to try for the vulnerable game instead. It may have been the right decision in theory but he had placed too much reliance on his partner's dummy play.

South opened One No-trump (15-17 points) and West overcalled with Two Spades. North thought for some time but finally rejected a double in favour of a direct raise to Three No-trumps.

West led the ten of spades, dummy played low, and declarer won East's jack with his queen. It was extremely likely that West held both missing aces for his vulnerable overcall and, in an attempt to slip a trick through, South led the jack of hearts trying to look like a player taking a finesse. If the jack held, he planned to switch rapidly to clubs. West was not fooled, however; he took his ace and cleared the spades. Now declarer was held to eight tricks.

Should South have tried the jack of clubs instead of the jack of hearts? Or should he have cashed four diamond tricks first? I hope you did not try either of those! Quite simply, you should let East's jack of spades win the first trick. As he is unable to return the suit, you now have time to develop all the tricks you need. This only fails if West has overcalled with only a five-card suit - but then you can blame your partner for not doubling Two Spades.