Saturday's bridge

It is not always possible to work out the distribution of the hidden hands, but sometimes there is a way to cater for every possible layout.

East's 3S was a pre-emptive raise after the overcall, and West was perhaps a bit ambitious to proceed to game. But all will be forgiven if you make it. North leads out three top hearts. On the third heart South discards a diamond, and you ruff. What now?

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You have already lost two tricks, and will almost certainly lose a club, so the aim is to avoid a trump loser. 'Nine never' is the maxim, but the odds are quite close, and when North is known to have six hearts to South's two he may well have a singleton spade. Perhaps some investigation is in order. Play a spade to the king, noting that everybody follows. It should be safe enough to play ace-king of diamonds and ruff a diamond, and again, everybody follows. Now play a club to the ace, and a club towards dummy. Still no-one shows out. North is now known to have six hearts, three diamonds, two clubs, one spade and one other card. If that card is a club or a diamond you should take the spade finesse, concede a club and claim your game.

But suppose North's remaining card is the queen of spades? No matter. If he wins the trick he has nothing left but hearts. On the heart return you can ruff in dummy and discard your club loser.

It may seem unnatural not to draw trumps immediately. Generally when we postpone drawing trumps it is because there is something more urgent to do, or because we need to keep trumps to control a side suit. Here we delayed drawing trumps to find out as much as we could before deciding how to play the trump suit. Was there any risk of losing a ruff? Not really. If anyone could ruff the second club it would be North, and he was ruffing a loser.. stunningly pipped Sauber's Kamui Kobayashi on the line for sixth.