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The deal below is from the Swiss League of the ARJ memorial tournament held some years ago at Coimbatore. Declarer found a strange play at the table to guard against bad breaks in trumps as well as the side suit.

Contract: 6S by south. West leads the club king. Plan the play.

Analysis: When the dummy hits, you feel partner had been a bit too pessimistic. Instead of worrying about missing a possible grand, you should concentrate on ensuring the contract. You should realise that a 4-1 trump break can make it very difficult for you and if diamonds also turn out to be 4-1, the problem may well be unmanageable.

The immediate line that suggests itself is to play for trumps to be 3-2. If it turns out 4-1, you can hope that the hand with the trump length follows to three diamonds. You strike it down at once as it doesn't seem to be alright.

Another promising line of play is to cash SA, enter hand by HA, and ruff a club. Re-enter hand by DK and play two more rounds of trumps. If there is a trump loser, play a diamond to the ace and continue with the queen to discard your club, and claim the contract. A snag in this line of play is that if diamonds are also 4-1, the defender will ruff the second diamond and cash a club to defeat the contract.

Declarer gave the problem considerable thought and came up with a one hundred percent solution. Have you spotted it?

Play: Declarer won the opening lead with the club ace, and played the nine of spades from dummy at trick two and let it ride! West is welcome to win with the jack. If a spade is returned, win the trick with the ace, enter hand by HA, remove trumps, and play on diamonds to discard your losing clubs. If west returns a club instead, ruff with the spade ace, and continue as before. The dangerous distribution in the defenders' hands that the declarer was playing for:

Discussion: Seemingly easy contracts can sometimes run into difficulties. This is one such contract where declarer correctly decided to lose a trump trick early to guard against possible bad breaks in trumps as well as diamonds.

The play also caters to jack-fourth in trumps in the east hand together with a singleton diamond.

The opening lead created club losers in declarer's hand. By leaving a trump in dummy, declarer retained control, thereby preventing the opponents from cashing club tricks.

All other lines of play are definitely inferior.

Stunning and absolutely brilliant, don't you think?

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Keywords: BRIDGEcard game