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  Oct. 19/99






by Beverly Kraft -Eric Kokish

 Even if your partnership employs sensible methods and bidding is the best part of your game, you will occasionally find yourself in an apparently hopeless contract. Like South's 5
on today's deal.

North-South vulnerable East deals

  K 3
K 10 9 7 2
J 7

J 8 5 4

8 6 2
A Q J 8 6
A 6 5 2


Q 7 4
5 4 3
10 9 8 4 3

A 3

  A J 10 9 5


Q 10 9 7 6 2


West North East South
    Pass 1
1 1NT 2 2
Pass 4 Pass 5

 Opening Lead:

 With six-five shape and strong intermediate cards in his suits, South's 2
is virtually automatic. North's jump to 4 (four trumps, handsome spade holding) is understandable, but not as clear-cut. South can hardly pass 4 and both 4 (trying for a five-three fit) and 5 are normal continuations. With a minimum and a likely ten-card club fit, South chooses 5, only to find that he has three top losers.

 West leads the
A, however, giving declarer a breath of hope. To succeed, he must play on spades to discard both dummy's diamonds before a defender gains the lead. Playing ace-king works only if the defender with queen-doubleton cannot (or does not) ruff the third spade with a high trump to take the A. If, instead, declarer can determine which defender has three spades headed by the queen, a normal two-one trump break with divided honours permits him to get home. We will soon see why this is so, but first, where is the queen of spades?

 Declarer might reason that West would prefer to lead a diamond (rather than the risky
A, which could easily set up heart winners in dummy) if he did not have the ace. If, on that assumption, declarer places West with the A, one club honour (East would have doubled holding both the ace and king) and the A, he will conclude that East is a favourite to hold the Q for his raise.

 A thoughtful declarer plays the
K, spade to the jack, continuing with the A and a fourth spade, discarding diamonds even if West can ruff the fourth spade with the 3. If the singleton trump honour ruffs, declarer drives out the other honour later. If the small trump takes the defensive ruff, declarer plays a trump when he gets in, crashing the ace and king.