The spade game looks fairly solid but it can be defeated if the defence strikes out in the right direction. Take the West cards and see if you can spot the weak link in declarer’s armour. You begin with the king and ace of diamonds and partner plays the seven and six, South following with the two and three. What next? Even if you are playing count signals, you can tell East has two diamonds rather than four. That’s because with 10-7-6-4 he would play the second highest card (7), followed by the fourth highest (4). You do best continue with a low diamond, which declarer has to ruff high in the dummy. On this thick East throws the two of hearts, a low card to show an odd number of hearts. Declarer draws two rounds of trumps, discovering the 4-1 break. He cannot draw the remaining trumps since he will be exposed in diamonds and therefore leads the queen of hearts. If you take this, declarer will make the contract on any return. You must duck instead and then declarer will suffer a heart ruff if he plays another heart. The game will go one down.

What would you rebid on the West hand?

The best rebid is 2S. Since it is beyond the ‘safety barrier’ of 2D it shows extra values. Such a bid is known as a ‘reverse’ and is forcing to game facing a two-level response. The stronger you are, the more important it is to describe your hand accurately, so that a possible slam can be investigated. To rebid in notrumps would be less accurate. A jump to 3S is unnecessary, even if played as natural. It would waste space.

Awards: 2S-10, 3NT/2NT-4, 3S-3, 3D-2.\

David Bird — Knight Features