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Bridge 11/17

It can help to steer clear

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Posted: November 16, 2006 5:22 p.m.
Updated: December 18, 2006 9:51 a.m.
In yesterday's deal, East could see how to defeat the contract, so took charge, overtaking his partner's winner and making the killing shift. When I first looked at today's deal, I thought it was another in that genre, but it is not.
    Look only at the North and East hands. You are East, defending against four spades. Your partner leads the heart queen. How would you plan the defense?
    You opened with a weak two-bid, showing a good six-card suit and 6-10 high-card points. South bid what he hoped he could make.
    What has partner led from? If a singleton, you probably will not be able to defeat the contract.
    If a doubleton, you can take the first three tricks in hearts. Then, on the third round, partner can make a revealing discard. If he throws an encouraging club, you will shift to that suit. But if he discourages in clubs, you will play a fourth heart, hoping to promote a trump trick for partner.
    If West has led from three hearts to the queen-jack, you will get only two heart tricks and need to find two more.
    The key point is that you do not know how many hearts partner holds. But he knows that you have six. At trick one, signal with the heart 10. If he has only two hearts, he will play his second. Here, though, he should shift to his singleton diamond.
    Declarer will win on the board, lead a club to his hand, and play three rounds of trumps. Your partner will win with his queen, put you on lead with a heart, and await a diamond ruff for the fourth defensive trick.
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