Worried about his poor spades, South bid 6NT rather than 6S, although it made little difference in practice. How would you play 6NT on a club lead? You have ten tricks outside the spade and must therefore score two spade tricks to bring the total to twelve. How would you play the suit? ‘Are you joking?’ many players would say. ‘You take the spade finesse, of course.’ That gives you a 50 per cent chance, yes, but you can do better. A small improvement is to cash the ace of spades before leading towards the queen, gaining when East started with a singleton king. An even better idea is to win the club lead in dummy and lead a low spade away from the ace-queen. What will East do, holding a doubleton king? An expert would be familiar with the situation and play low smoothly, baring the king. Most of the world’s defenders are not up to this-nowhere near! They will rise with the king, frightened that you would otherwise win with the jack in the South hand and later drop their king. The fear is irrational because if you held the spade jack you would surely have made the first lead in the suit from your hand.

What would you say now on those West cards?


You are too strong to bid just 3S. Remember that you would have to make this bid on many hands containing only 13 points or so. Opposite a 3S overcall partner may pass on hands with six or seven points on which game will be easy. An overcall of 3NT might work well but it is a gamble. A take-out double is unlikely to help much (unless partner jumps to 4H). The normal call on these values is 4S. AWARDS: 4S-10, Dble-8, 3NT-6, 3S-5.

David Bird — Knight Features