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Love all; dealer South


4A J 9 4

!J 10 6

#8 6 2

2A J 4

West East

46 5 4K Q 7 3

!A 8 7 5 3 !9 2

#7 5 #Q J 10 9 3

2K 10 9 2 28 3


410 8 2

!K Q 4

#A K 4

2Q 7 6 5

In this hand South opened One No-trump (12-14 points) and North tried a Stayman Two Clubs. South bid Two Diamonds but went on to game after North's Two No-trumps.

West led the !5 against Three No-trumps and declarer won East's nine with his queen. He ran the 48 unsuccessfully and East returned the !2. When South followed with the king, West ducked. Then, if his partner held a third heart and the spade finesse was repeated, the defenders would have five tricks.

It did not work as planned. The second spade finesse duly failed, but East was unable to oblige with a heart and was reduced to a diamond return. Declarer cashed his winning spades and a second diamond trick and West found himself forced to part with one club and a winning heart. Now South exited with his last heart and, after taking two tricks in the suit, West had to lead clubs. This gave declarer three tricks in the suit and his contract.

What was the vital clue that West had missed? If his partner had started with the !9 4 2, he would have returned the four rather than the two. So there was no point in holding off. If West wins the second heart and clears the suit, he cannot be thrown in - there is no end-play and the contract must fail.