Whenever you have a singleton loser in your hand or on the board, there is a natural reaction to discard it as quickly as possible. But sometimes the maneuvers necessary to take the discard will leave you badly positioned, as in today’s deal.

Aggressive bidding resulted in a poor slam—though some say that there is no such thing if the slam makes! South was thin for his three-heart rebid, and his four-club control-bid with only the singleton king was debatable. Four no-trump was Roman Key Card Blackwood, the reply showing two key cards (two aces or one ace and the trump king) and the trump queen.

East thought for a while at trick one, then put in the diamond 10. (If he had won with the ace, declarer would have had 12 tricks: two spades, given the winning finesse, six hearts, two diamonds and two clubs.) Declarer, in a rush to discard the diamond eight, cashed the club king, played a spade to the queen and threw his diamond loser on the club ace. The spade ace, a club ruff and a spade ruff followed. However, East overruffed the dummy and returned a trump, leaving South with an unavoidable spade loser.

That was unlucky, but after winning with the diamond queen, South should draw trumps and run the diamond eight, conceding a trick in the suit. Here, East wins with the jack and returns, say, a club. South wins, finesses the spade queen, then leads the diamond king, ruffing out East’s ace. A spade to the ace allows South to discard his two spade losers on the club ace and diamond nine.

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