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Bridge 9/11

Three players can make good plays

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    Robert Benchley, who died in 1945, said, "If you think that you have caught a cold, call in a good doctor. Call in three good doctors and play bridge."
    Not a bad plan — if you can find three doctors willing to make house calls.
    In this deal, West, East and South all have a chance to make a good play. How many can you find? South is in three no-trump. Over to West, because he starts trick one.
    Although North has two doubletons, he should bid three no-trump, not go looking for five of a minor. Note that five diamonds has three top losers: one spade and two clubs.
    West: His opening lead should be the heart eight, top of nothing. Do not lead fourth-highest without an honor in that suit.
    South: He has eight top tricks: three hearts and five diamonds. He can easily establish a ninth winner in spades, but he might lose one spade and four clubs. He can increase his chance of success by taking the first trick on the board and immediately calling for a spade. (It is also sensible to win the first trick with the heart queen, play a diamond to dummy's queen, feigning a finesse, and call for a spade.) If declarer needs a misdefense, he should put the defenders on the spot as quickly as possible.
    East: The opening lead marks declarer with the heart queen and king. And East knows that declarer has five diamond tricks ready to run. So, the defense has to cash four club tricks now. East must rush in with the spade ace and shift to the club two, which defeats the contract.
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