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Bridge 11/23

Listening to them places their cards

Wilson Mizner said, "A good listener is not only popular everywhere, but after a while he gets to know something."
    It is the same at the bridge table. Every time an opponent bids, it gives you information that is likely to be useful later. Even when he passes, he might be feeding you key clues. (For example, the bidding starts one spade — pass — pass around to you. Now you know that your right-hand opponent has at most five points. If he produces an ace early in the play, you can place all of the key missing honors on your left.)
    This deal is an example of placing the cards from the bidding. You reach four spades. West leads the club ace: four, nine, three. West cashes the club king: five, six, jack. West continues with the club 10: seven, queen, eight. East shifts to the heart three. How would you continue from there?
    Over a takeout double, North's two-no-trump response shows at least a game-invitational raise in partner's suit with four or more trumps. He promises a minimum of 10-12 support points and eight losers, but he could have game-forcing values.
    Who has the heart king? Surely West. There are only 15 high-card points missing, and East has already produced the club queen. West is a heavy favorite to have the heart king and diamond queen.
    So, win with your heart ace, draw trumps, cash dummy's diamond ace, return to hand with a spade, and play a diamond to dummy's jack. When the finesse wins, you can claim.
    Keep listening to and remembering all of the bids and passes.
Copyright 2006, Newspaper Enterprise Assn.

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