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Bridge 11/29

The teaching deal that might not be

Former Harvard president Charles W. Eliot wrote, "Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers."
    I wonder if he would have included newspapers and magazines.
    I found this deal on a teacher's index card. How would you plan the play in four spades after West leads the diamond jack? What do you think the proposed play theme was? What is the problem with that approach?
    You have nine sure tricks: five spades, two diamonds and two clubs. If the spade finesse is working, everything will be fine; but if it is losing, you will need to ruff your third heart on the board. You should combine the two possibilities, crossing to the club ace and calling for the heart two. If East plays low, you can rise with your queen or put in the nine — it matters not a sou or a centime — and you will make your contract.
    The index card was inscribed "ruff heart." But there is a major snag here. If East is in midseason form, he will play his heart king at trick three, then shift to his trump. Now no matter how you wriggle, you cannot make the contract. If you finesse in spades, West wins with his king, returns a trump, takes the next heart, and leads his third trump, eliminating dummy's ruffing power. Similarly, if you rise with your spade ace at trick four and play a heart, West wins, cashes his spade king and plays his last spade.
    Back to the blackboard.

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