West was convinced that he was on the right track in his defence to 3NT on this deal, but he had failed to notice an important inference.

North-South had conducted a scientific but revealing auction: South had opened 1NT (12-14 points) and his partner responded with a Stayman 22. Over the denial of 2#, North continued with 34! This was forcing to game and showed precisely four spades and five hearts. Why did North not transfer to hearts and then bid his spades? Ah, but that would apparently have meant something quite different. With a close decision, South chose 3NT rather than 4! to conclude the auction, and West led 49.

Declarer won with dummy's king (on which East followed with the two) and ran !Q. West held off for the first round but won when South finessed again. Then, sensibly enough, he tried the effect of 2A and was delighted when his partner signalled with the jack. He followed with 27 and East played the six. South won the next club lead, however, and, after knocking out #A, had no further problems.

Now what was the vital clue that West had missed? In the play to the second round of clubs, his partner had contributed the six. Had he wanted a club continuation, surely he would have overtaken with his ace in case West held only a doubleton in the suit. Therefore East wanted to leave his partner on lead and, indeed, a reversion to spades at this point would have established a trick in the suite while West still held #A.

Love all; dealer South


4K J 7 3

!Q J 10 8 5

#K 3 2


West East

49 8 6 4Q 10 2

!K 9 2 !7 6

#A 9 5 4 #10 8 7

2A 7 3 2J 10 9 8 6


4A 5 4

!A 4 3

#Q J 6

2K 5 4 2