Monday 21 June 1999
The deal here provided a vital clue for Philip Marlowe (Chandler's private eye in Farewell, My Lovely). Would you have made the same play as Miss Velma Lamont?
Velma, as South, opened One Heart, West overcalled with One Spade, and North bid Two Spades (a high card raise to at least Three Hearts). East pushed with Three Spades and seemed to have got his opponents overboard when North went on to Four Hearts.
The lead was the three of spades, and you see declarer's problem. If dummy plays low and South wins with the queen to attack trumps, West will win and switch to clubs - probably to the ten, sufficient to defeat the contract if his partner holds either the king of clubs or the ace of diamonds.
But Velma won the opening lead with dummy's ace! - apparently creating a fifth loser for herself. Then she played on trumps and West took his ace. It was "clear" to him that his partner held the queen of spades and so it was automatic to put East in and wait for a club return and two more tricks. It was declarer, however, who turned up with the queen and had an untroubled run for an overtrick.
North-South game; dealer S
!Q 8 6
#K Q 8 7 6
2J 6 5
4K J 4 3 2 410 8 6 5
!A 7 !9 3 2
#4 3 2 #9 5
2A Q 10 2K 4 3 2
!K J 10 5 4
#A J 10
29 8 7
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