Douglas Adams, the English author of "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy," which started as radio scripts and turned into a multimedia phenomenon, said, "If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, we have at least to consider the possibility that we have a small aquatic bird of the family Anatidae on our hands."
That ought to be a big enough hint to this deal. Against three no-trump, West leads a fourth-highest heart seven and East puts up the jack. What should South do?
The auction was straightforward. North would have tried to find a club fit only if his hand were strong enough to contemplate a slam. (We prefer three no-trump to five of a minor because we have to win two fewer tricks to gain the game bonus. But small slams and grand slams are 12 and 13 tricks, regardless of the strain.)
With 29 combined high-card points and a strong five-card suit in the dummy, it looks as though declarer will make this contract as easily as a duck takes to water. But there is a nasty trap.
Imagine declarer takes the first trick and runs his club jack. East grabs the trick and returns his remaining heart, West taking four tricks in the suit for down one.
Now go back to the first trick and duck it. What happens then?
The contract must make. At the worst, South would lose three hearts (with hearts 4-3 and West ducking the second round of the suit) and one club. Here, declarer cuts the defenders' communication and ends with at least 10 tricks.
COPYRIGHT: 2012, UNITED FEATURE SYNDICATE
SPADES A 5
HEARTS 5 3 2
DIAMONDS Q J 8
CLUBS A Q 10 9 4
SPADES Q 10 2SPADES J 9 8 6
HEARTS A 10 8 7 4HEARTS J 9
DIAMONDS 10 6 3DIAMONDS 9 7 4 2
CLUBS 7 6CLUBS K 5 2
SPADES K 7 4 3
HEARTS K Q 6
DIAMONDS A K 5
CLUBS J 8 3
1 NTPass3 NTAll pass
Opening lead: HEARTS 7