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Bridge 12/19

Promotion can be a bad thing

We normally consider promotion to be a good thing. We have been moved into a higher position, with, usually, greater remuneration attached. Of course, if we were in a competition for the promotion, the loser would feel unhappy.
    It is the same at the bridge table. Promotion — trump promotion — is good for one side and bad for the other. In this deal, you reach four spades after East overcalls in hearts. West leads the heart nine. How would you plan the play?
    The one-spade response by South guaranteed at least a five-card suit. With only four spades, he would have made a negative double.
    You have three top losers: one spade and two hearts. Since the minor suits are solid, the only danger is losing a second spade trick, which could happen if the opponents gain a trump promotion.
    Win the first trick on the board and call for a low spade. After East plays low and you take the trick with your king, how would you continue?
    If you play a spade to dummy's queen, you will go down. East will win, cash two heart tricks, and play another heart. If you discard or ruff low, West overruffs; if you ruff with your spade jack, West discards and scores his spade 10 in a moment. West's trump has been promoted.
    Instead, at trick three, lead the spade jack from your hand. East wins with his ace and takes his two heart tricks. If he then plays another heart, ruff in your hand. If West discards, you draw his last trump. If West overruffs with his remaining trump, you overruff with the board's queen.

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