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John's Tips 10
John's Tip of the Month - Jan '10
Place The Ace

When we find ourselves having the opening lead against a small slam and our hand contains an Ace, is it best to start by leading that card? A complete answer would contain many an ‘if’, a sprinkling of ‘onlys’, several ‘buts’ and the inevitable disclaimer – no guarantee of  success!

I do not intend to try to piece together such ‘catch-all’ advice but I do want to highlight a situation where, I guess, we would all be happy to start with the lead of an Ace – We are playing ‘pairs’ (stopping an overtrick can be worth several match-points), the slam is a suit contract (suits can be established for discards- so get our tricks first) and our Ace is in an un-bid suit. Yes I know - very obvious but how about a corollary? If at match-pointed pairs we are declarer in a contract of, say, six spades missing a side-suit Ace and our left hand opponent does not lead that card then it is surely sound to assume that the Ace is held by our right hand opponent.

And so to our hand (provenance-deal 19 Nov 30). Take the South seat as declarer. You have the task of making at least 12 tricks with spades as trumps, the lead is the 5 of clubs and the bidding has been as above:-

(4NT is Roman Keycard Blackwood - 5S shows 2 'keycards' and the trump queen)

Our preliminary thoughts perhaps:-

11 top tricks, assuming the trumps behave, 13 if the knave of hearts can be brought down within three rounds of the suit. Shame we don’t have another club and one less diamond – an extra trick could then easily be developed in the heart suit and reached via a top club. In fact the club lead has removed one link between hand and dummy. We are sure the ace of diamonds is with East (West would have cashed it particularly after our bidding has shown 11 cards in 2 suits) so leading towards dummy’s king will only lead to failure.

Hoping for the best, we win the first trick in dummy and play the king and another spade. East follows to the first spade but discards the 8 of diamonds on the second round - mmm! Are we still relying on the hearts or is there something else that might help us land this slam?

 How should we proceed?

(When you've had a think - press 'Show Answer')

If the heart suit cannot be cashed from the top then more than likely it will be East holding the long hearts and, of course, together with the diamond ace! Play 5 rounds of spades, watching for any heart discards and throw, from dummy, first the small diamond and then the two small clubs. Next we try the ace of hearts – just in case the knave falls; it does not. Now we play our last trump discarding the lowest heart from dummy and play a heart to dummy – still no knave. The winning club should be played from dummy bringing us to this ‘end-position’.

                                            Q    T                                            
                                            J    9    6                                       

Play the king of diamonds. East wins but has to concede the last 2 tricks to dummy.

(Press Show All Hands)

One final thought. If the hearts had been 3-3 then one defender would have started with 3 small and might well have discarded one of them whilst keeping cards in clubs and diamonds considered to have more chances of winning tricks!
John's tip of the Month - Feb '10
About a boy

My offering this month is a deal from a teams match in which declarer, after sound bidding, appeared to take an inspired view. On closer analysis, however, his play actually ensured the success of his contract. Have a look at the scene confronting South as the dummy hit the table. The auction was as shown, North/South being vulnerable against not vulnerable

3H   Pre-emptive raise (2S would have shown a stronger heart raise)
4S   Raising to the limit – i.e. 10 card fit -  bid to the 10 trick level
5H    Easy decision at this vulnerability.

West started the play by leading the spade ace followed by the king. The second spade was ruffed and trumps were drawn in two rounds with East showing out on trick four.

 How would you plan the play from this point?

(When you've had a think - press Show Answer)
This is how declarer landed his contract at the table. Tackling the diamond suit from trick five, the ace was played first and then the queen followed by the last diamond from the table. East followed suit for three rounds, declarer played his 10, finessing against the knave, and this won the trick, West showing out. The king of diamonds then provided a club discard in dummy meaning that declarer only had the one club trick to lose – contract made. Good guess? No, good play. Had the diamond finesse failed, that suit would have split 3/3 thereby providing one club discard from dummy and at the same time West would have been ‘end-played’ - on lead to either lead into declarer’s clubs or to lead a spade so allowing declarer to pitch a club from dummy and ruff in hand – ‘ruff and discard’.

A final point: - The contract could always have been made wherever the diamond knave lay between the defending hands. For instance had East shown out on any diamond trick then West could have been left on lead with the fourth diamond, a club being shed from dummy. At that point West would have had to concede.

Have a look at all four hands – perhaps noting that 5S by East/West would have saved a few imps!

John's Tip of the Month - Mar '10
A Crossroads Ending

This is not about a motel and some rather wobbly stage scenery. A ‘crossroads ending’ is my own description for an ending which is classified in Bridge literature as ‘a criss-cross squeeze’. It is quite rare, mainly due to some fairly tight requirements; however one did appear, recently, during one of our duplicate sessions. Here is the scene, with a touch of poetic licence, which greeted South, the declarer in a contract of four Hearts. Let us say it was ‘game all’ and West the dealer. This had been the auction:-

"(2S annonced as 'weak')

The opening lead was the King of spades. South won this with the Ace and led a low trump to dummy’s King - winning the trick. Declarer then called for the Queen of diamonds and a successful finesse followed, with East declining to cover. Had he done so there would not have been a story to tell?

The next trick saw the trump suit cleared - West winning. Two rounds of spades followed with declarer ruffing in his own hand in order to win the sixth trick. The contract was by then secured – could an overtrick be made?

It seemed reasonable to place East with both minor suit Kings. Take the South seat and pile on the pressure by running the remaining trumps. The two minor suit Aces will allow you to choose ‘what side of the road to be’, i.e. in hand or in the dummy, for the last trick

What is the three-card ending which would give East an irresolvable problem?

(When you've had a think - press Show Answer)

       J    9                
        Q    2           

The lead is still with South and at this point East cannot retain guarded Kings in both the minor suits – a case of two hands being better than one? East will, almost certainly, ‘bare’ the club King in the hope that his partner has the Queen. You can then ‘cross the road’ to the club Ace and cross back to the diamond Ace claiming the overtrick via the established Queen of clubs.

There were opportunities for the defence, at tricks five and six, when the precise communications that were needed for that ‘crossroads’ ending could have been disrupted.

(Press Show All Hands)

John's Tip of the Month - April '10
It’s the early card that gets the squirm

When, as declarer, we have done all the routine planning to maximise our chances of landing our contract it is very easy to forget that the defenders can also be helpful by discarding incorrectly. Often the best way to enlist such help is to apply the pressure as early as possible. Here is a deal, from an Inter County teams of eight match some years ago, which hopefully will illustrate just that point. Let us see the bidding, which gave little away, and the North/South hands.

The play begins when West leads the 8 of clubs. East wins this trick and returns the club 7. Form your plan for the play hereon.

Press Show Answer when you've had a think.

It looks a pretty good contract – 11 tricks on top and an extra one could come from either a 3/3 split in spades or in diamonds. Failing that the 12th trick could be generated via a genuine squeeze if one defender holds the long cards in both spades and diamonds. The end position should be:-
                           Q    5    2                           
                           A    K    8    4                       

Either the 6 of spades is a winner or we play the diamonds and make four diamonds (a) whenever they break evenly or (b) if one defender had started with long cards in both spades and in diamonds – or (c) if a long diamond had been incorrectly discarded.

To help with this latter possibility we should win the second trick and cash another club and then immediately start on the spade suit i.e. the visible suit. If the suit does not divide evenly then one defender has to find a discard on the third spade before any information regarding the red suits is available. The East hand, in fact, had 4 hearts and 4 diamonds and with nothing to guide them two out of the four players sitting there (the contract was the same at all four tables) got it wrong- at trick 6!

Now press Show all hands to show the complete deal

John's tip of the Month - April
Can Radar Track Flying Pigs?

(Don't click on the Show Answer or Show all Hands buttons yet)

It is just an aide-memoire to remind us of possible active strategies that can be used when defending against a suit contract. The initials CRTFP can remind us to:-

(i) Cash :- cash or set-up our tricks before declarer can get them away.
(ii) Ruffs :- try to use our own trumps to ruff declarer’s winners.
(iii) Trumps :- lead trumps to reduce declarer’s trick winning potential.
(iv) Force :- force declarer to ruff – thereby possibly passing trump control to the defence.
(v) Promote :- promote a defender’s apparent losing trump to a winner.

These are not mutually exclusive. Often we should change strategy within a deal as more information comes to light. Neither are they, on their own, a universal panacea for all our defending woes – we still have to use information from (i) the bidding, (ii) the cards we can see in the dummy and (iii) the cards that  partner plays. For the latter part to be effective a partnership needs to agree upon a simple signalling system dealing with (i) ‘count’ = number of cards held in the suit being played, (ii) ‘attitude’ = high cards held, and (iii) ‘suit preference’ = preferred suit if a change of suit is indicated. In addition there are situations when it pays to be passive in our defending, playing safe and waiting for our tricks to come to us.

However over the next five months I intend to create examples covering the five active strategies implied in the title above. Where signalling might be involved, rather than dwelling on that side of the game in general, I will, in any example, play the card that I might be expected to play but at the same time mention the system being used.

So for this month it is Cash. When I started this series back in January, the first example was of the CASH type contained within the article ‘The danger in dummy.’ (If you missed it, scroll to the bottom of the page.)

To consolidate the message here is another, fairly similar, example:-

We are playing duplicate pairs and sitting in the West seat holding:-

S    AKxxx    
H   Qx    
D   xxx    
C   xxx    

We are vulnerable against non-vul and the bidding has been:-

        N            E            S            W        
                                    1H*         1S        
        2S**      3S          4H           NB        
        NB         NB                                

**North’s 2S bid showed a good raise to at least 3 hearts (Allowing 3H to be pre-emptive).
*North/South play a ‘five card major system’.

It is our lead and decide naturally on a top spade – but which one?

(When you've had a think, click on the Show Answer button above.)
For me it is the King this asks for ‘Kount’ (The Ace would ask for ‘Attitude‘ = have you got the Queen?). Count information is provided by playing the cards numerically upwards when holding an odd number of cards in the suit - and downwards, making it as clear as possible,otherwise.

We lead the King and see these cards in dummy:-

S    xxx    
H   KTx    
D   Qx    
C    KQJxx    

Partner plays the 9 of spades to trick one – thereby clearly signalling a holding of 4 spades (remember the bidding?) and thus leaving declarer with just the one spade which is played to the first trick. If partner had played the spade deuce, or a fairly obvious lowest card, we would know that we could cash another spade. As it is, if we woodenly lead another spade declarer will ruff, draw trumps and run the clubs.

It is a familiar scene - a source of tricks in dummy – telling us that we need to get at ours first. Yes, lead a diamond to partner’s Ace (on a good day for us Ace and King). In the actual deal, (click on the Show all Hands to see all the cards) without the diamond switch declarer makes plus two, but with the diamond switch just plus one. And if partner doesn’t have the diamond Ace or the club Ace, declarer can make 12 tricks – then perhaps they, North/South, should have bid the slam with South opening the auction with a stronger bid.
John's Tip of the Month - May '10
The Trump Equation

There is a simple piece of arithmetic which has occasionally given me an insight into how a suit contract could be landed. Put simply it is:-
Required tricks – Side suit winners = Trump tricks needed.

Or, symbolically:-           R – S = T

Here is a deal, from a pairs competition, wherein declarer might apply the equation, along with the normal counting, on the way to success. Have a look at declarer’s task in a contract of four spades. West starts with Ace, King and a third club after this auction with South dealer at love-all.

All follow to three rounds of clubs so our first decision is what to discard, from our own hand, on the club queen. Using the trump equation:–
10 tricks required – 5 side suit winners = 5 trump tricks needed

So obviously all five trumps in the dummy will have to provide these tricks – there is no chance of ruffs in hand. Easy job if the outstanding trumps split 3-2; otherwise ruffs in dummy will be required. Thus we elect to discard a diamond from hand at trick three so retaining hearts which could possibly be ruffed in the dummy.

At trick four we play the three top trumps and we are pleased! to discover a 4-1 break. Pleased because a 3-2 split would mean the 3NT contracts will have an easy ten tricks and also pleased because it is West with the long trumps sitting under dummy’s trumps. The task is clear; we have to make both of those remaining trumps. So how do we propose to achieve that? There is one pothole to avoid!

(What is it?  Have a think before pressing Show Answer)

Play Ace and King of hearts and ruff a heart in dummy, West discarding a diamond on the third heart.  Return to hand using the diamond suit playing Ace first and then the King before leading another heart and so making our last trump ‘en-passant’.

The pothole? Check out what would happen if we do not play that diamond Ace before the return to hand; West would end up making the last two tricks with the trump knave and a club!

(Now have a look at all the hands)

John's Tip of the Month - June '10

Suppose that our opponents open the bidding with a suit bid and then either the suit is raised or is rebid after a 1NT response. Now if we wish to compete for the contract then clearly a 2NT bid from our side is of no use in its natural sense. We can then use the bid, with partnership agreement of course, to convey a more useful message. In such a guise it has been called ‘The scrambling 2NT’ and to my mind it says “I have two places to play”.

Three recent examples might have illustrated its effectiveness - Here is the first - the others I will keep for my next two efforts. This is the hand that  South holds.

East/West are vulnerable, North/South are not and West is the dealer. The bidding has been as above:-

Have you any advice for South?

Have a think then press Show Answer
They have bid to the two level - a comfort zone for them and therefore not for us

 Partner, sitting in the ‘pass-out’ seat, has decided, rightly, to change that scene via a ‘take-out’ double. Either our side will declare for, hopefully, a better score than two spades by East/West or the opponents will choose to bid again so giving us extra defensive chances.  We can expect partner to have bid a five card suit so it is reasonable for us to place North with at least two four card suits. Thus we have an eight card fit. But is it clubs or is it diamonds?

In order to find out we ‘ask’ by bidding a scrambling 2NT (hopefully! alerted by partner). North bids his/her lowest four card suit, which in this deal happens to be diamonds. Three diamonds, just making, brings in a good score.

Press Show all Hands
John's Tip of the Month - July '10
More Scrambling

Here is another recent deal where the ‘Scrambling 2NT’ ( = two places to play) was used on the way to a fairly good board. Take a look at the scene from the South seat. You are non-vulnerable against vulnerable, West deals and opens one spade, partner passes and East bids two spades. Now it is over to you. Your hand is:-

        A    J    9    5    2
        A    Q    T    4    3
        9    8    3        
I think that you are unlikely to be able to offer, safely, both of your suits explicitly. So you bid a scrambling 2NT which tells your partner that you have two playable spots. The 2NT bid is, correctly, alerted and West ‘ups the ante’ with a 3S bid. Partner bids 4C – thus showing some interest and starting the scramble. When you bid 4D, thereby revealing that your suits are the red suits, North bids ‘one-for-the road’ and you arrive in a 5D contract. The lead is the spade Ace and these are the cards at your disposal.

How would you play these hands?

A simple count – two side tricks, diamond and club Aces, so nine trump tricks are required – ergo a cross ruff. You will need to take that Ace of clubs early before the defence, in this hand it was West, discards clubs as you ruff hearts. A good score but beaten by a 5D X made and 4S X down two.

(Have a look at all the hands)

Final thoughts: (1) Nine tricks ought to be achieved in spades by West and (2) Could West have found a trump lead against South’s 5D?

Ed: You can see last month's tip covering the Scrambling 2NT below.
John's Tip of the Month - August '10
Scrambling Higher

Here is my final example on scrambling wherein via one bid we reveal a holding of two playable suits (at least five carders). Thereon the partnership bids playable suits ‘upwards’ and a ‘fit’ is found. The difference this time is that we cannot employ the scrambling 2NT because the opponents have nicked the ground. Take a look at the scene from the South seat.

It is ‘game-all’, West deals and starts the auction with a ‘weak 2 spades’. Partner passes and East piles on the pressure with a 4 spade barrage bid.

 How do we proceed?

(Have a think then Press Show Answer)

Our problem would be no different had the bidding been 1S, or even 3S, raised to 4S. At the table South bid 4NT, not to be alerted nowadays.North, in response to a request from West, said that the 4NT bid showed‘2 places to play’ i.e. a scrambling 4NT.  In such a sequence a natural 4NT is very unlikely to be required or indeed is a Blackwood 4NT of much use. So an efficient use of the bid is the scrambling message. At this point I think that it could make sense to look at all 4 hands.

(Press show all hands)

* Some theorists say that one shouldn’t bid a weak 2 in a major when holding 4 cards in the other major. I don’t have a view on that – it is a 2S opener for me.
** A barrage bid – a case for 5S (11card fit so bid to the 11 trick level) especially if non-vulnerable - not the case here.

Now to North – there is obviously a double fit available to North/South whichever 2 suits it is that South holds. A case can be made for bidding 5D and passing 5H (pairs scoring) if it is that South holds clubs and hearts, but the usual way is to bid playable suits upwards. And that is how it went – 5C from North, 5D from South – thereby showing the red suits and North bid one more - six diamonds by South the contract.

As you can see the play presented no problems, just a heart trick to lose. But neither did a contract of 6 hearts and that in fact won the top match-point score for the board. Maybe the bidding at that table didn’t start at the 4 level for North/South! In bridge, as in golf, the score often hides an interesting journey.

John's Tip of the Month - September '10
Finesse Control

Declarer had a simple finesse for his contract but it was duplicate pairs hence the making of overtricks was an important consideration. We will get in first at the planning stage and then later see what happened at the table.  South dealt at game-all and after the simplest of bidding he became the declarer in charge of a 3NT contract. West led the 5 of spades and this was the collection that confronted South. What plan can you offer declarer?

(When you've had a think press Show Answer)
Clearly a successful contract and overtricks revolves around the club suit and it is obvious that if East gets in then the contract is doomed. In isolation the best way to play the suit is over to the Ace ( in case East has a singleton King) then back to hand with a red card and lead a club towards dummy letting West have the King on the second or third round of the suit. In fact it would have been on the second round. At that point, safe from a spade attack, ten tricks can be made - eleven if West panics and cashes the spade Ace. The tricks would be one spade and three from each of the other suits.

So what actually happened?

After winning a trick with the club Ace at trick two, declarer played all of his red suit winners ending in hand. Then at trick eight a club was led towards dummy. West had to win that trick and being ‘end-played’, having only spades remaining in his hand, conceded another spade trick to South who thus ended with eleven tricks and a very good match-point haul.

“Well played” said West, smiling as though he was chewing a wasp and to his partner “Sorry - I slopped at least one trick”. Had he played his King of clubs at trick 2 then one trick would have been saved if declarer had ducked that and two tricks saved if declarer had gleefully topped the King with the Ace only later to regret such haste.

(Now press Show All Hands)

John's Tip of the Month - October '10
Trump Equation points the way?

It was hand number 17 from the club’s duplicate session of September 6th. Unusual, to some extent, in that the hand was played by East in the same suit (hearts) at everyone of the twelve tables. But, perhaps, it was more noticeable simply because only four of the declarers made the requisite ten tricks
I sat North, dealer at love-all, and this was the auction at our table:-

Partner led the 7 of clubs to my Ace and I switched to spades. Declarers King was topped by partners Ace who then played another top spade. This was ruffed by declarer who fairly speedily wrapped up the required 10 tricks. Had we made it too easy? Or had some declarers taken too many trumps out too early?

Take the East seat and form a plan. You have lost the first two tricks – trick one to the club Ace on your right and then trick two to the Spade Ace on your left. You ruff the spade continuation. What next?

(When you've had a think - press Show Answer)

I think that the trump equation (Hand of the month - May this year) is often a useful aid to pointing the way to success in some suit contracts. This deal seems to be a good example.

The equation states that:-
Trump tricks required = Required tricks – Side suit winners

For this hand the arithmetic is:-

10 – 3 (Ace of diamonds and two top clubs) = 7

Therefore 7 trump tricks are needed in order to land this contract. That is easy to achieve if trumps can be drawn in two rounds – we would make 5 trumps in hand plus the residual 2 in dummy. However trumps are less likely to split evenly hence we should plan to make 5 trumps in hand and 2 in dummy without drawing all the outstanding trumps. Use the trumps in hand to ruff dummy’s spades and then make the Ace and Queen of trumps separately – a ‘dummy-reversal’

Here is a suitable line -

Trick 4 – one round of trumps only - with the King
Trick 5 – cross to dummy via the diamond Ace
Trick 6 - ruff spade                    
Tricks 7 and 8 – top clubs discarding diamonds from dummy
Tick 9 – club ruffed with Queen in dummy
Trick 10 – dummy’s last spade ruffed in hand
Trick 11- cash knave of trumps

Thereon – the Ace of trumps still sitting in dummy – the required 10th trick.

(Press Show All Hands to see the deal)

Check out what could happen if two rounds of trumps are drawn at tricks 4 and 5. Trump promotion for the defence? Success is there also if we do not take that initial round of hearts – but if South had one less club….!

John's Tip of the Month - November '10
Have the goalposts been moved?

You are playing duplicate pairs on a recent Monday evening at our club. You and your partner have bid to a very sound four spades contract and it is your job to play the hand. Sit in the South seat and see the scene:-

North was dealer at game-all and this had been the auction:-

The first two rounds of bidding have revealed that North holds a 24-25 point balanced hand and then:-

N              E            S             W
2C          Pass         2D          Pass
2N          Pass         3H*        Pass
4C**      Pass        4S***      end

* = transfer showing five spades
** = happy with spades, showing club control and ergo a slam try
*** = no further interest

Now it is over to you. Your thoughts and plan of action?

(When you've had a think - press Show Answe)

This contract is easy but is it the norm?

As ever! you have accord with your partner’s bidding – in particular that decision to bypass 3NT -  but it is duplicate pairs and therefore a reasonable assumption is that quite a few of pairs sitting your way will be contracting in 3NT.( For the record 7 out of 12 were in 3NT) Those pairs will have no problem in amassing ten or eleven tricks(clubs breaking) thereby matching your trick total and thus a better match-point score -  unless you can manage an extra trick(six in all) from the trump suit and the club suit fails to break evenly. Six tricks from spades could possibly be made via:-

(a) Five in hand and a club ruff in dummy. Draw two rounds of trumps, play off dummy’s clubs, cash the Ace of diamonds, ruff a heart to hand and ruff the long club in dummy. Thereon just concede the two losing diamonds. You would need the defender with short clubs also to have at most two trumps. A better plan, needing just a three/two break in trumps is:-

(b) Three spade tricks from the dummy and three heart ruffs in hand – a dummy reversal. Ruff a heart in hand, a trump to dummy, another heart ruff and return to dummy with a second round of trumps. Ruff dummy’s last heart and back to dummy with say a club to pull the last trump. Again just concede the two losing diamonds. This line would have garnered 22mps whereas just making ten tricks would have given you a mere 5mps – the difference equating to almost 3% in your final score.     

(Press Show all hands)

John's Tip of the Month - December '10
Slim chance – Fat chance

For this month I have chosen a hand from our (Kath, Nick, Anne and myself) recent Staffs Cup match. The competition is the County’s ‘teams of four’ knock-out event -  played, in the early rounds, over 32 boards.
The story starts at our table with a play problem after we had reached a reasonable (my excuse at the time) slam with two apparent losers. Here is the scene facing declarer as West starts proceedings with the lead of the heart knave. Any suggestions regarding the play?  Both sides were vulnerable with North the dealer and the bidding had been as above.

3H  =  splinter, club support, heart shortage
4D, 4S  =  controls
5S  =  response to RK Blackwood showing 2 of the five Aces plus the trump Queen

(When you've had a think, press Show Answer)

If only South, say, had a spade more and a diamond less there would be no tale to tell. As it happened it appeared that 11 tricks might be the limit – losing the club Ace and a diamond.

However there was a slim chance: the missing trump Ace might be a singleton and also in a hand containing at most 2 diamonds. With this possibility in mind Anne, as declarer, won trick one with the Queen of hearts, cashed the two top spades and then crossed to hand with the diamond Ace. The top hearts followed, discarding 2 diamonds from dummy, and then over to dummy via the king of diamonds. At that point a trump was played – hopefully into a defender’s hand with only hearts and spades remaining – and thus forced to concede a ‘ruff and scruff’ with the diamond loser in hand being the scruff!

This is a possible complete deal that Anne had hoped to find:-

Click Show all Hands

But this is in fact a ‘bad news – good news’ story. Bad news because East held three diamonds and the contract failed but good news because a slam had also been bid at the other table. Better news; it was a grand slam – unsportingly doubled by our team mates! 10 imps to the good guys.

(Tip by Ed - don't bid a 'grand' missing an Ace!)

John's Tip of the Month - January 11
Worth Repeating

Here is a hand from a teams match with aggregate scoring. West dealt with North-South vulnerable. The auction, at the home table, started with a ‘weak two’ in spades by West and continued rapidly as above.

South, thus, became declarer in 6NTand this was the scene as West tabled the queen of spades.

Declarer spent some time assessing his chances – eleven top tricks, a red queen could drop in two, maybe ‘rectify the count’ and set up a squeeze! “Small please” his instruction to his partner and heeding the sound advice ‘watch all the cards’ he was delighted to see the singleton eight of spades (West was known to have six spades) played by East. Winning trick one with the spade king declarer then played the nine of the suit. West had to cover and so a third spade trick, via the six or seven, gave declarer his twelfth trick and a thinly disguised glow of success.

(Press Show All Hands)

But the story doesn’t end there. Team-mates arrived to ‘score-up’ – and on this hand the opposition had bid to 7NT by South and made it – meaning 780 points away even though both red queens were protected! Check out the play ‘double dummy’. Win the opening spade lead in hand and play the four red suit winners before running the clubs. West is caught by a ‘repeating squeeze’ conceding to declarer the two extra tricks needed for his contract.