Overlooking something which in retrospect appears obvious

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IT can be easy to overlook something which in retrospect appears obvious. Can you find the careful play here?

LIZ McGOWAN
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For    scotland on sunday logoby LIZ McGOWAN

West    East
K J 10 9 8 3
6 5
A J 6 3
8
  A 7
J 9 7 4
K 5
A 10 5 4 2
     

 IT can be easy to overlook something which in retrospect appears obvious. Can you find the careful play here?

Partner’s weak 1NT is not classical, but any other opening bid would leave him with an impossible rebid. You might transfer, but with limited values you do not want to give opponents a chance to get together in hearts, so you choose to leap to the spade game, concealing your own distribution rather than the precise location of partner’s high cards. North leads king, ace, then three of hearts; on the third round South covers the nine with the ten and you ruff. How would you plan the play?

Your only plain suit winners are ace-king of diamonds and the ace of clubs. Even if you can draw trump with no losers you will be a trick short, so you must look elsewhere for an extra trick or two. You might set up a fifth club, but you will not have the entries to cash it. Or you could try the diamond finesse, followed by a diamond ruff – but if the finesse loses you would need the queen of spades to drop doubleton, which is against the odds. A simpler line is to use both of dummy’s trump to ruff diamonds, then concede a trick to the queen of spades. At the table declarer played king of diamonds, ace of diamonds then ruffed a diamond with the seven of spades. Alas, South overruffed with the queen of spades and returned a spade to the ace, and there was no way to avoid losing a diamond trick to North. It was very unlucky to find North with five diamonds and South with the queen of spades, but there was no need to depend on luck. How should declarer play?

Quite simple really. Just ruff the first diamond with the ace of spades. Return to hand with a club ruff and ruff the fourth diamond with the seven – South is welcome to overruff this time, since your remaining spades are solid.

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