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Bridge 12/20

It is hard to be unnatural

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It is always difficult when a deal requires an unusual move. We get so accustomed to doing the "normal" things that when an "abnormal" play is required, we often miss it.
    In this deal, you hold the East cards, defending against four spades. Your partner leads the heart ace, promising the king behind it. In what direction would you anticipate the defense proceeding?
North's response of two no-trump was the Jacoby Forcing Raise, promising at least four-card spade support and game-going values. South's four-spade rebid showed a minimum with no side-suit singleton or void.
    When partner leads the ace from ace-king and you have a doubleton, it is normal to play high-low. And most defenders would do that almost on autopilot. Watch what happens. West cashes the heart king and gives you a heart ruff, but that is the end of the defense. South wins your club shift, draws trumps, and discards his diamond loser on dummy's fourth club.
    You should see that the heart ruff will come at the cost of your natural trump trick. And a diamond shift by West at trick two must be good business. So, play your heart three under the ace. With luck, partner will get the message and shift to a diamond.
    If declarer takes the diamond finesse, you win with your king and return the heart eight. But South would probably win the diamond with dummy's ace, draw two rounds of trumps, and start on the clubs. You trump the third club, cash your diamond king, and lead the heart eight. Your side gets one spade, two hearts and one diamond.
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