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The Independent Online
I have been doing well for a local charity by taking small side bets on this deal. The question posed was: "How many tricks can you make in a heart contract after a diamond lead?"

The usual answer was eleven. Not too difficult: after winning East's #K, trumps can be tackled and a ruffing finesse in diamonds allows dummy's three losing trumps to be discarded.

The shrewdies thought they had spotted the trap. Remember the question? "After a diamond lead." Suppose that the lead had been the queen of diamonds. As long as West wins an early round of trumps and (perhaps after cashing one spade) switches to a club, South will be held to nine tricks.

Very interesting, but, even if the punters had got that far, purely academic, the charity was still the winner. I had not specified who was declarer! In real life, it was east. After two passes, West opened One Spade and East bid Three Clubs - a force after passing that conventionally agreed his partner's suit. South doubled, West rebid his spades and East, still fancying his hand, cue-bid Four Hearts. Confused, and manifestly on a different wavelength, West passed to end the auction.

After the lead of the #A, and a slight misplay, declarer ended with just two tricks. he was not very interested when his partner explained how he could have made a third, and North-South collected their 800 points the hard way - at 100 per trick.

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