Publilius Syrus, a Syrian slave who was freed by his master and became a writer of proverbs and adages in Latin, said, “The wise man avoids evil by anticipating it.”

The wise bridge player avoids a minus score by anticipating his problems. In this deal, Justin Hackett from England (West) did just that – and he made the key play smoothly, not with uncertainty and a perspiring brow, which would have given the game away.

How did the play go in three no-trump? West led the spade seven: two, 10, queen.

South’s two diamonds was an inverted minor-suit raise, showing at least game-invitational values and denying a four-card major. North’s two-heart rebid indicated a stopper in that suit and warned of weakness in at least one black suit.

South started with six top tricks: one spade (trick one), two hearts, two diamonds and one club. He had to guess diamonds for two more winners. Then, perhaps East had the club king, or, because the first trick marked West with the spade ace and king, maybe he could be endplayed in spades to lead a club into South’s ace-queen.

Declarer correctly played East for the diamond queen and took his tricks in the suit. East pitched a heart and a spade, but what did West discard? Anticipating the endplay, he calmly threw the club 10.

Now declarer cashed dummy’s top hearts, then led a spade, hoping to snare West. However, after taking four spade tricks, Hackett led a heart to his partner’s queen for down one.

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