Game all; dealer North


4 Q 9 6 3

! A K 7 6 4 2

# K Q

2 3

West East

4K 10 8 7 4 J 4

!10 8 ! Q J 9 5

#10 8 4 3 # J 9 5 2

2Q 7 5 2 J 10 9


4 A 5 2

! 3

# A 7 6

2 A K 8 6 4 2

This was a perplexing hand from a recent teams' event. With exactly eight top tricks in Three No-trumps and a number of possibilities for the ninth there were communication problems.

North opened One Heart. South responded Two Clubs and North rebid his hearts. Without exploring any further, South jumped to Three No-trumps and all passed.

West led the three of diamonds and South considered the problem. The trouble was that there were too many options!

As you can see, simply playing three rounds of clubs works well, but suppose the clubs are 4-2 (or even worse). Now the defenders, on winning the third club, will play a heart and the contract will depend on an even heart break.

With only one side entry to the table, playing on hearts immediately looks a poor bet, but what about ducking a round of spades completely? The hope is that the spades are 3-3 or that the king is doubleton or in the West hand. Ah, but even if the spades behave, a club return will snarl up declarer's entries.

Perhaps Peter Millar, as declarer, had the best idea - his solution was certainly the simplest. He cashed dummy's second top diamond and followed with the ace and another spade. When the queen won he was home.

"A straightforward 50 per cent chance," he observed afterwards. "And, what's more, nothing to think about!"