Games: Bridge

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The Independent Online
East missed the chance of a little decaption that might well have led to the defeat of South's game contract on this deal.

North, playing five-card majors and a strong no-trump, opened One Club and East overcalled with One Heart. As his heart holding seemed sure to be worth three tricks, South stretched slightly and jumped to Three No- trumps. West led !7 and declarer won with the jack.

There were eight top tricks and two possibilities of a ninth: the diamonds might break 3-3, or West might hold 4J. The latter looked the better bet (50 per cent as against 36 per cent), so at trick two declarer led 43 to the seven and jack. A heart came back and, as it seemed likely that East still held two spade entries and declarer's trick in the suit would come too late, South turned his attention to diamonds. The suit behaved and now there were nine tricks.

So, how could East have muddied the waters? Suppose that he wins the first spade lead with his king rather than the jack. South wins the heart return and perseveres with spades to be quietly infuriated when East turns up with an unsuspected jack. Now East clears the hearts and it is too late for declarer to try the diamonds.

It is the sort of ruse that is easy to miss in the heat of the moment, and yet, if you think about it, East's false-card could hardly have cost and might well have gained.