Bridge: A case of what might have been

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The Independent Online
CONNOISSEURS of quaint end positions will enjoy this hand. In practice, declarer failed to take advantage of a slight defensive slip, and so the deal has had to be confined to my might-have-been file.

Love all; dealer South


K J 9 8

10 7 6 4

J 7

9 8 7


Q 7 6 4 2

9 5 2

10 9 8

K 10


5 3

8 3

6 5 4 3 2

Q 6 4 3


A 10



A J 5 2

A guesswork auction landed South in Six No- trumps, although Six Hearts would have been a better slam. West led the ten of diamonds and, with only one entry to dummy, there seemed little chance of developing an extra club trick by normal play.

Declarer made a good start by cashing his four heart winners, on which West parted with a spade and East with two diamonds. South followed with his remaining top diamonds, throwing a club from dummy, and this left all four hands with only black cards.

Next came the ace and ten of spades, covered by dummy's jack. The finesse won, but declarer's next play of the king of spades meant that the defenders came to two more tricks. West was hardly likely to have his queen of spades unguarded and, strangely, declarer does better to abandon dummy's king. Look what happens if he follows with a club to the ace . . . .

If West follows with the ten, he is thrown in with the king and forced to lead a spade, allowing declarer to take another finesse. And if West unblocks with his king under the ace? Now a low club is led to West's ten. If he is left on lead then, as before, he has to play spades. If East overtakes with his queen, he has to lead away from his six of clubs, allowing South to finesse the five]

There was a defence - East must keep four apparently useless diamonds, and part with a club when declarer runs his heart tricks.