Pastimes

Bridge

Game all; dealer South

North

4A J 10

!J 9 8 6 3

#K J 4

2K 5

West East

49 7 5 2 4Q 8

!4 !A 2

#9 6 5 #A Q 10 8 3

2Q J 10 9 6 28 4 3 2

South

4K 6 4 3

!K Q 10 7 5

#7 2

2A 7

The adverse cards were not well placed for declarer (and East defended well!), but he judged matters neatly to land a vulnerable game on a deal where it would have been easy to go down.

South opened 1!, North raised directly to game to end the auction, and West made his natural lead of the 2Q against the contract of 4!.

Declarer made an intelligent start by winning in hand and crossing to the 2K before starting trumps with the lead of the jack. The club suit had been eliminated and, if East had started with the singleton !A, he would have been end-played and forced to lead either a spade or a diamond to South's advantage.

Furthermore, East might play low with the ace and another trump, after which a second round of trumps catches him as before.

East passed the test when he went in with the ace of trumps and made the safe trump exit. This left South still needing a winning guess in either spades or diamonds. It looked tempting to try the diamonds first, but a wrong view (and there was no right one) would still leave him with the spade problem.

Instead, declarer played off the 4K, and followed by finessing the jack. If this lost, he could still try the diamonds and - here was his extra edge - although East won with the 4Q, he had no spades left and had either to lead a diamond or to concede a ruff and discard.

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