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Posted on Tue, Mar 13, 2012 : 5 a.m.

Bridge column, March 13: The crocodile did not bite

By Phillip Alder

Zahi Hawass, a leading authority on ancient Egypt, said, "I found in one of the tombs an inscription saying, 'If you touch my tomb, you will be eaten by a crocodile and a hippopotamus.' It doesn't mean the hippo will eat you; it means the person really wanted his tomb to be protected."

This deal features a crocodile -- a Crocodile Coup.

In the auction, North's three-spade rebid promised some points, usually 4 to 7. (A jump to four spades would have been weaker, denying any first- or second-round control.)

Against six spades, West led the club king. Declarer saw that if hearts were 3-2, the contract would be laydown. But in case they were 4-1, he set a trap for West.

After ruffing the first trick, South cashed his spade ace, played a spade to dummy's nine (East threw a club), ruffed the club jack, and cashed his three diamond winners, ending in his hand.

Then declarer led a low heart.

West did not bite. He played low, so East had to take the trick and concede a ruff-and-sluff, on which South's second low heart disappeared.

Yes, East should have discarded his heart jack on the second round of trumps, but West missed a chance. If he had played his heart queen -- a Crocodile Coup -- at trick eight, it would have swallowed East's jack and sidestepped the endplay. And since the earlier play had exposed the distribution of South's hand, this was correct unless East had a singleton king or ace, which was impossible if South's bidding was sane.

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