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bridge Alan Hiron

In general it is correct to cover only the second of two touching honours. For example, if dummy holds Q J 9 of a suit and declarer A 8 7 6, it would be a mistake to cover with K 5 4 when the queen is led on the first round of the suit, as this allows a second-round finesse against your partner's 10. By breaking that rule, however, East set declarer a difficult problem on this deal.

North opened One Heart and, lacking the values needed for a Two-level response, South bid One No-trump. North raised to Two and, reasoning that if the clubs rolled he might easily make nine tricks, but that if they did not even eight tricks might be difficult, South went on to game.

West led the six of spades against Three No-trumps and declarer won East's 10 with his jack. Clearly he had to play on clubs and, after crossing to dummy with a top heart, he led the jack of clubs.

Suppose East now plays low: the jack wins and the position is clear. South has to duck for the next round of clubs completely and rely (successfully as it turns out) on the defenders being unable to take more than three spade tricks.

East, however, smartly covered the jack of clubs with his king. The winning play for South after that is to allow the king to hold, but understandably hoping for six club tricks and thus no worries about the spades, he won the trick with his ace.

But now he could no longer duck a club without blocking the suit and was consequently restricted to eight tricks.

Game all; dealer North


4 Q 8

! A K 7 5 2

# A K 3

2 J 10 2

West East

4A K 7 6 4 10 5 4 2

!Q 10 8 6 3 ! J

#J 9 5 4 # Q 8 7 2

2none 2 K 9 8 7


4 J 9 3

! 9 4

# 10 6

2 A Q 6 5 4 3