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Bridge 12/02

The worthwhile sometimes are not

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English-born Canadian poet Robert Service, who died in 1958, wrote, "Be master of your petty annoyances and conserve your energies for the big, worthwhile things. It isn't the mountain ahead that wears you out — it's the grain of sand in your shoe."
    A marathon runner might agree with that. Sometimes at the bridge table, though, cards we think will prove worthwhile become a liability.
    Take the East seat. Defending against three no-trump, your partner leads a fourth-highest club six to dummy's bare ace. What would be your defensive plan?
    Despite his weak spades, North was right to try to find a 4-4 fit in the suit.
    Declarer, hoping to win at least two spades, two hearts, four diamonds and one club, will probably cross to hand in a major and run the diamond nine (or jack). If the finesse wins, he has at least one overtrick in his future. If the finesse loses, perhaps the defenders can take only three club tricks, the suit splitting 4-4. Or, as here, maybe they will take only two club tricks because the suit blocks.
    Well, it blocks if you played your club two at trick one. But if you and your partner have the sensible agreement that leading fourth-highest guarantees an honor in the suit, you should realize that one of your court cards is unnecessary. At trick one, you must jettison the jack (or king!). Then, when you get in with your diamond king, you can cash the club king (or jack) and lead your carefully conserved club two through declarer's 10-8, permitting your side to collect one diamond and four clubs.
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