The play in Three No-trumps on this deal proved intricate but South finally ended with only eight tricks. Certainly there were all manner of possibilities as matters developed, but declarer had completely overlooked what would have been a comparatively straightforward route to success.

North opened One Spade, South responded Two Diamonds and North, rather than rebid his indifferent spades, imaginatively tried Two Hearts (I am sure that I would have rebid Two No-trumps). South now jumped to Three No-trumps and all passed.

Against the no-trump game, West led 26 to the two, jack and queen. It was easy enough to cash #J, but now declarer had the problem of getting to hand. First he tried a club from dummy (as clubs were the unbid suit, it was possible that West had led from a three-card holding). East discarded a diamond, however, and declarer ducked. A heart came through to the six, queen and four and East got off lead with a spade to the queen, king and ace.

Next a low spade went to West's jack and he pushed through a second heart. Later East found himself end-played in spades but the defenders still came to five tricks.

So, what should South have tried? Consider the merit of letting East's 2J win the first trick! Say he switches to a spade: then, after South wins and unblocks with #J, his 2Q,10 assures him an entry to his winning diamonds and the major suits are still safely guarded.

Game all; dealer North

North

4A 10 8 4 3

!A J 6

#J

2A 5 4 2

West East

4K J 49 7 6 5 2

!5 3 2 !K Q 9 8

#10 8 6 4 #9 3 2

2K 9 8 6 2J

South

4Q

!10 7 4

#A K Q 7 5

2Q 10 7 3

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