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North, normally a critical partner, was so pleased with the auction on this deal that he nearly forgot to comment on South's play. With only 26 points between the two hands it was certainly a good effort to reach a slam, but the play deserved more consideration.

South opened One Spade and, following a modern trend, North bid Two No- trumps - showing a raise to game in spades with a balanced hand and four- card trump support. South's next bid was Three Hearts, showing an interest in going beyond game and either a void or a singleton in hearts. This fitted beautifully with North's four small hearts: it meant that all the partnership's high cards were pulling their full weight. Roman Key Card Blackwood located the 4K and the 2A with South, and North went on to Six Spades.

West led the #J against the slam and matters looked easy enough to declarer. One of dummy's clubs would go on a top diamond and two clubs ruffed on the table. It seemed a good idea to draw two rounds of trumps first, just in case the diamonds did not stand up for three rounds, so, after winning the lead on the table, South played off the 4K and 4J, finding that East still held the eight. Now the diamonds had to be risked and next came the top clubs and a club ruff. There was no immediate entry back to hand and, when a heart was led, East smartly went in with his king to lead a third trump and leave declarer a trick short.

At trick two, declarer should give up a heart. Play continues as before with the difference that, at the critical point, declarer can get back to hand by ruffing a heart.