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The themes come in twos

Robert Benchley's Law of Distinction is: "There are two kinds of people in the world, those who beli

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Posted: December 11, 2006 6:09 p.m.
Updated: December 26, 2006 5:00 a.m.
Robert Benchley's Law of Distinction is: "There are two kinds of people in the world, those who believe there are two kinds of people in the world and those who don't."
    We often say things come in threes, but after today's column I am planning to stop this theme at two. You are South, the declarer in four spades. West leads the club 10 to dummy's king. How would you plan the play? What was West's more effective opening salvo?
    North judged that a slam was unlikely, so bid what he thought his partner could make.
    You have nine top tricks: five spades, two hearts and two clubs. You must establish a diamond trick. After winning the opening lead in dummy, play a low diamond — do not cross to hand with a heart first. (Here, you can start trumps, but it risks a telling heart shift.) East wins with his queen and shifts to the heart queen. Win in hand and run the diamond 10 to East's ace. Take the heart continuation, cross to dummy's club ace, discard the heart five on the diamond king, and claim, conceding a trick to the spade ace.
    To end, something for experts. North might have taken the auction slower, starting with a two-club cue-bid. Then, what would a double by East signify?
    It could be a strong hand short in spades, the opponents' suit. But that is a low-percentage choice. Some play that it demands a club lead. But partner will normally lead a club. I prefer to treat the double as asking partner to lead something other than a club. Then West might open with the heart six, which would kill the contract.
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