THIS HAND is from the qualifying round of the Open Pairs in the World Championships held in Lille in 1998.

When West opened One Club and North pre-empted with Two Spades, (the adverse vulnerability and the sterile 7-2-2-2 shape curbed many player's enthusiasm for pre- empting higher) East-West did well to bid game in their 4-4 diamond fit rather than their nine-card club fit; the extra club in the West hand provides a parking spot for East's third heart.

However, Five Clubs can be made, as Lambardi of Brazil ably demonstrated.

Spades were led and continued, Lambardi ruffing the second. He drew trumps, then cashed !A and !K.

A small diamond to the king was followed by another towards the ace, and when no honour appeared from South, declarer had accurately to assess North's distribution, in the light of the bidding and the vulnerability.

He was known to have two clubs, two hearts and at least six spades, and had already followed to one diamond. For the contract to succeed he must hold only two hearts. Therefore was his shape 6-2-3-2, in which case declarer must play his ace of diamond, then a third, putting North in to force a ruff and discard? If so, South held four spades and had not raised his partner's suit - fairly unusual at this level these days.

Or was he 7-2-2-2, in which case he needed to duck the second diamond to North, again forcing the ruff, and discard? Lambardi came to the right conclusion, and duly made his contract.

North-South game;

dealer East


4A K 9 6 4 3 2

!10 4

#Q 7

2J 3

West East

45 4J 7

!K 9 6 !A 8 5

#A 10 9 8 #K 6 4 3

2A K 8 7 4 2Q 9 6 5


4Q 10 8

!Q J 7 3 2

#J 5 2

210 2