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BRIDGE



Published: Tue, February 22, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Both vulnerable. South deals.

NORTH

x A K J 4

u 10 5 2

v10 6 3

w K J 8

WEST EAST

x 10 7 6 x Q 5 3 2

u Q 9 7 6 4 3 u J 8

vA 2 vK 9 7

w 9 6 w 7 4 3 2

SOUTH

x 9 8

u A K

vQ J 8 5 4

w A Q 10 5

The bidding:

SOUTH WEST NORTH EAST

1v Pass 1x Pass

2w Pass 2u Pass

3NT Pass Pass Pass

Opening lead: Six of u

Over the past month, we have tried to stress the importance of spot cards. Here is another example.

South might have considered opening one no trump with his slightly off-shape hand and unstopped major, but that probably would have made no difference to the final contract. Five diamonds is a better contract only because North has the 10 of diamonds, a card that would not be revealed by the auction. North's two hearts, the fourth suit, was a game force that said nothing about the suit. Rather, it inquired about a heart stopper and South, with a better-than-minimum opening and double heart stopper, jumped to three no trump.

West led the six of hearts and declarer could count only eight fast tricks. There would be no time to establish a diamond trick because declarer would have to force out two diamond stoppers from the defenders and, with the heart opening lead, he had only one more stopper in the suit.

The only route to nine tricks was in spades so, after winning the first trick, declarer played off all the clubs and then led a spade to the jack. East won with the queen and returned a heart to remove declarer's remaining stopper, and South could not take more than eight-tricks -- down one.

The odds on one of two finesses working are three-to-one in favor, and South had that possibility available. The key to the hand is possession of the nine eight of spades. After winning the first trick, declarer should run the nine of spades. If that loses to the 10, when declarer wins the heart return he can then finesse the jack of spades. The contract must succeed if West holds either the queen or 10 of spades.

& copy; 2005 Tribune Media Services




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