Bridge - The Scotsman 05/07/13

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ANOTHER interesting deal from a National League match. North-South have the balance of the points but cannot actually make game. Playing five-card majors, South might be tempted to open 1S (pretty horrible with the 5332 distribution and poor controls).

Unaware of the duplication in hearts, North raises to game in spades and this contract is hopeless – the 5-0 trump break puts paid to any chance of establishing diamonds, and there are not enough tricks.

Weak no-trumpers might do better (the South hand is quite a sound weak no-trump even though it is a point short). North raises to game, giving nothing away. A heart lead beats 3NT, but not knowing the distribution, West will probably try a spade. Declarer wins in dummy and ducks a diamond to the singleton king.

It is not too late for a heart switch. Declarer wins the jack and plays a second diamond, but East takes the ace, and clears the hearts. This holds declarer to eight tricks, even if East has discarded a winning heart on the opening lead. If instead West switches to a low club, declarer can make his contract by taking the king on the second round, blocking the suit – a better shot is to switch to the ten of clubs, but declarer can cover with the jack, forcing East to take his ace. Now the nine prevents West from unblocking. There is one makeable game, but it belongs to East-West. With their 16 points they are cold for 4H when trump break 2-2.

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