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With two aces to knock out after the opponents have found the best lead against 3NT, it is always a problem which suit to play first. On this deal there were a number of other considerations and South did well to find a winning line.

South's opening bid of One No-Trump (15-17 points) was raised to game by North, and West led #J against 3NT. Declarer ducked the first round completely, but, when West continued with #2 and East unblocked his queen under dummy's king, it seemed very likely that West had started with five diamonds.

It was a nightmare problem for South. He could play on either hearts or clubs, but his actual choice of a club worked well. You can see the point: if East went in with his 2A in order to clear the diamonds while his partner still held a heart entry, South would be able to drop West's 2Q and so come to four club tricks and his contract without having to touch hearts at all.

In practice, East played low on the club lead and, again guessing well, declarer went up with his king. Abandoning the clubs, he started on hearts. The king was allowed to win, but the queen lost to the ace and West cleared the diamonds. Now South faced a final decision: should he play for the drop of the !10 or finesse the 9?

Eventually, placing West with longer diamonds and therefore, probably, East with longer hearts, declarer finessed and so landed a thin game.

Game all; dealer South


4A J 4

!K 6 3

#K 5

29 8 7 6 5

West East

48 7 3 2 410 9 6

!A 8 !10 5 4 2

#J 10 9 8 2 #Q 6 3

2Q 2 2A 10 4


4K Q 5

!Q J 9 7

#A 7 4

2K J 3