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The Independent Online
I AM indebted to Barry Rigal for quieting a niggle. Partner played and made 3 No-Trumps after I had opened the North hand with One Club.

West led the king of hearts, a strong lead in their style, requesting partner to unblock the jack. When no jack appeared, West knew that declarer held A J x (x) and that continuing the suit would give declarer two tricks and, more importantly, time to set up dummy's clubs.

The only hope for the defence appeared to lie in the spade suit, so West switched to the three at trick two. South played low from dummy and took East's king with the ace.

When in with the ace of clubs East did well to return a spade rather than a heart. West won with his queen, which felled dummy's jack, then cashed the ten, as he could see no further tricks for his side.

My niggle? On the way home I had the feeling that the contract could have been defeated, but as dummy I had not paid close attention to the spade pips. Then I saw the report of a similar hand, penned by Barry Rigal, detailing the winning defence.

At trick two West should have switched to the queen of spades. If declarer takes the ace immediately and plays a club, East wins, cashes 4K and then plays another through South's 9 6 to West's 10 7. Should declarer duck the first round, West plays his small spade to East's king, who fires back his third when in with the ace of clubs.

And if declarer ducks two rounds, leaving East on lead after trick three? Then he reverts to hearts.

Love all; dealer North


4J 8

!4 2

#A K Q

2K Q J 9 6 3

West East

4Q 10 7 3 4K 5 4

!K Q 10 9 8 !6 5 3

#J 8 5 #9 7 3

22 2A 8 7 5


4A 9 6 2

!A J 7

#10 6 4 2

210 4