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ON BRIDGE

Bridge writers (seldom in America) have been known to credit famous players with spurious brilliancies. Today's deal, or one like it, appeared with an attribution to an Italian champion -- who said later he'd never seen it. Cover the East-West cards to see if I could credit the right play to you.

Say South takes the ace of hearts, leads a club to dummy and loses a trump finesse. West exits with a trump; and South then tries a diamond finesse with dummy's nine. He loses three diamond tricks and goes down one.

It doesn't help South to finesse in diamonds first, since East will win and lead a trump, stopping a diamond ruff in dummy. But in the published version, South led a club to dummy at Trick Two and returned the nine of diamonds: 10, jack.

West won but couldn't lead a trump. When he led a club, South ruffed, lost a diamond, took East's trump return with the ace and ruffed his last diamond in dummy.

Well played! I wonder if it really happened.

You hold: Q 10 Q 10 6 5 Q 9 A Q 8 5 2. Dealer, at your left, opens one spade. Your partner doubles, and the next player passes. What do you say?

A: Partner promises the value of an opening bid and surely has good support for the other major suit. Since game at hearts requires only 10 tricks, jump to three hearts to invite. Take away your queen of spades and trade the queen of hearts for the ace and you'd insist on game.

North dealer

North-South vulnerable
NORTH
Q 10
Q 10 6 5
Q 9
A Q 8 5 2
WEST
K 7
K 8 7 4 2
A 7 6
J 9 3
EAST
4
J 9 3
K 10 8 5 2
K 10 7 6
SOUTH
A J 9 8 6 5 3 2
A
J 4 3
4
North East South West
1 Pass 1 Pass
1 NT Pass 4 All Pass
Opening lead -- 4

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