Wednesday's bridge...

MOST players do not enjoy holding bad cards. But in defence a weak hand may have a vital role to play, so it pays to stay awake.

When South opened a minimum weak 1NT, West might double. Given the chance East would pull the double to diamonds, where he can make nine tricks quite easily. But West was canny: with no good lead against 1NT doubled he preferred to keep his assets hidden. North transferred his partner into spades and West found himself on lead, with no choice but to lead away from an unsupported ace. A low spade looked relatively safe. Declarer won and continued spades so he took the ace and led a third spade, taken in dummy. Declarer played a diamond, West won another ace and returned a diamond. Now declarer tackled clubs, leading low to the king. West took his third ace, and got off lead with his last diamond, ruffed in dummy.

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At this point declarer had six tricks, and needed to establish clubs. He led the ten from dummy, hoping that West might have been dealt A9 doubleton. East was not paying attention, and played the nine. Declarer ran the ten, and was pleased to discover that he had three club tricks and his contract.

East should of course cover the ten of clubs, promoting his nine into a winner. Not only does he take an unexpected trick, he also gains the lead to send a heart through declarer and so beat the contract.