Margery Allingham, an English author of detective fiction whose best-known character was Albert Campion, said, “Chemists employed by the police can do remarkable things with blood. They can weave it into a rope to hang a man.”

Expert bridge players can do remarkable things with cards. They can weave them into a rope to hang an opponent – as in this deal.

How should West try to defeat four hearts by South? West leads the spade queen. Declarer wins with dummy’s king and runs the heart 10. What happens after that?

North produces a negative double, which shows four hearts (the unbid major) and some eight-plus points (or six or seven if he really likes his hand). He might hold five or even six hearts and only 6-9 points, too few to respond two hearts; but that is rare.

South has four potential losers: one spade (on the third round), two hearts and one club. But there are discards available on diamonds.

Yesterday, when declarer ran the heart 10, West won with his queen and persevered with spades. South won in the dummy and took three rounds of diamonds to shed dummy’s last spade. Then the contract made.

West missed a great opportunity to offer declarer a noose. He should have won the first heart trick with his ace! Then, when he led a second spade, South might have thought it couldn’t hurt to draw trumps with another finesse through East’s apparent queen. But West would have produced that queen out of his back pocket and cashed the spade 10 and club ace to defeat the contract.

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