HOW will you play 6H when West leads the spade king? If trumps break 2-2, all will be easy. What can you do if trumps are 3-1? You will then need to discard all three spade losers on dummy’s clubs before the defender with the master trump can ruff in and cash a spade or two. If you think about it, you will realise that the defender with the third trump will need to hold four clubs. He will then follow to four rounds, as you pitch two spades. On the fifth round you will pitch your last spade, not caring if he ruffs with his master trump. When clubs do break 4-2 (as you must hope in the case of a 3-1 trump break), the adds are 2-to-1 that the jack of clubs will lie in the four-card holding. So, win the spade lead and play the ace and king of trumps. Here East turns up with a trump trick, so it is best to play him for J-x-x-x in the club suit. You finesse the nine of clubs successfully and cash the club ace. You then play the ace of diamonds and reach dummy by ruffing the diamond king. Two more club winners allow you to throw two spades, East following all the while. Finally you lead dummy’s fifth club and throw your last spade. If West had turned up with three trumps, you would have finessed him for J-x-x-x in the club suit.

What will you say next on the West cards?

It is possible that 1H is the limit of the hands and there is no reason to fear playing in a 4-3 fit at the one-level. Against that, partner may still have an 18-count (since a rebid of 2H would be forcing to game). In that case you would like to bid again to give partner another chance. There is little reason to play in clubs, probably on a 5-2 fit, so a rebid of 1NT looks best, despite the moderate spades.

Awards: 1NT — 10, Pass — 8, 2C - 4.

David Bird — Knight Features