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Bridge 9/27

When was the error committed by the South?

    In "Ulysses," James Joyce wrote, "A man of genius makes no mistakes. His errors are volitional and are the portals of discovery."
    You do not have to be a genius to make your mistakes the portals of discovery. In this deal, South was in six spades. West led the diamond king. Declarer took the trick with dummy's ace, cashed the ace-king of hearts, and ruffed a heart high in his hand, West discarding a club. Now South was sunk. He had only 11 tricks: five spades, one diamond, two clubs and either three hearts, or two hearts and a club ruff. The slam could have been made. What was declarer's error?
    North's three-spade rebid showed three-card support and was game-forcing. South, who liked his hand, control-bid (cue-bid) four clubs to show that ace en route to four spades, just in case his partner was thinking about a slam. This was music to North's ears, who leapt to six spades.
    The error, as is so often the case, occurred at trick one. Declarer must let West win it. What can West do now?
    If he continues with a low diamond, declarer runs it to his jack, and then needs only to ruff a club on the board, not build up a third heart trick. The same is true if West leads the diamond queen at trick two. And if West shifts, declarer can go about his business. He wins the trick, takes dummy's top hearts, ruffs a heart, cashes his top clubs, ruffs a club, ruffs a heart, draws trumps, crosses to the diamond ace, and discards his diamond jack on the established heart 10.

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