North’s raise to 4S may seem a slight overbid but he knew that South held at least five spades. (With only four spades South would have made a negative double instead.) How would you play the spade game when West leads the seven of hearts? Declarer won with dummy’s ace of hearts and cashed three rounds of diamonds successfully, discarding his remaining hearts. He then played a trump to the nine, jack and king. West paused to calculate how the contract might be beaten. It would not be enough to find East with the ace-king of clubs because declarer would then have ten tricks. East needed to hold the ace of clubs and the ace of trumps. The setting trick would then come from a diamond ruff. West switched to the eight of clubs — a high spotcard to make it clear to partner that he did not want a club return. East won with the club ace and duly returned his last diamond. West overruffed declarer’s eight of trumps with the ten and East’s ace of trumps subsequently provided the setting trick. Had declarer read how the cards lay, he could have made the contract. Do you see how? After discarding his two heart losers, he reaches his hand with a heart ruff He can then lead the first round of trumps towards dummy. If West rises with the king and crosses to the ace of clubs, declarer can ruff the diamond return high. If instead West plays low, he will have only the trump king with which to ruff.

What will you say now on these West cards?

You are easily worth a jump response of 2S, which suggests 8-10 points and is non-forcing. Some players will tell you that the diamond honours are worthless, with a diamond bid over them and your hand is therefore worth only 5 points. That is too depressing a valuation. Also your fifth spade is worth at least two points. I would rather bid 4S than 1S, which you might have to bid with no points at all.

Awards: 2S - 10, 4S - 5, 1S - 4, 1NT - 3.

David Bird — Knight Features