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Love all; dealer West

North

4A 9 3

!A

#A 10 9 5 4

2Q 10 9 3

West East

4Q J 5 48 7 6 4

!K Q J 3 !9 8 6 5 2

#2 #8 7 6

2K 8 7 5 2 26

South

4K 10 2

!10 7 4

#K Q J 3

2A J 4

Three No-Trumps was a very easy contract for South on this deal - there were nine top tricks - but playing in a pairs' competition overtricks were vital. West found himself in acute difficulty with his discards.

West opened 12, North overcalled with 1#, and South bid a direct 3NT to end the auction (yes, 6# would have been an excellent contract). West preferred to lead the !K rather than his threadbare clubs, and east encouraged with the nine, (denying the 10) but West's troubles were only just starting.

Declarer won on the table and reeled off five diamonds, throwing a club from hand. West had three easy club discards but the last diamond really hurt. As he was marked with all the outstanding points, a further club discard would have allowed South 12 tricks.

If he throws a low heart - best for damage limitation - he would lose contact with his opponent's long hearts and South would come to 10 tricks. If he parts with a top heart, South can clear clubs.

In practice, West decided to play his partner for 410 and let a spade go. Now there were new problems when South cashed three rounds of spades, ending in hand with just as bad a result. Again, discarding a top heart allows declarer to play on clubs, and throwing his low heart meant that he was given the lead with his two heart winners and forced to lead a club at the end.

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