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Bridge 1/3

Get out of your own way

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Posted: January 2, 2007 4:34 p.m.
Updated: January 17, 2007 5:00 a.m.
George Orwell wrote, "The quickest way of ending a war is to lose it." At the bridge table, declarers who are about to go down play more and more slowly, delaying the evil moment when they will lose the war by conceding the setting trick.
    In this deal, you reach four spades. Everything looks easy until West leads the diamond two to East's ace. West rudely ruffs the diamond return, cashes the heart ace, and continues with a second heart. How would you proceed from there?
    North's sequence, a transfer bid followed by a jump in another suit, shows at least a six-card major and game values, with at most a singleton in the second-named suit. South, with so much in clubs and no quick red-suit control, wanted to bid three no-trump, but that was illegal.
    East, when returning a diamond at trick two, should lead back the five or six, a middle card to say that he has no re-entry in either clubs or hearts.
    You should plan to take the spade finesse. Trying to drop a singleton spade king in the East hand is mathematically a very poor play (a priori, just over six percent). But to take the spade finesse through West, you need hand entries.     With this layout, if you fail to unblock dummy's heart king under West's ace, you will lose the war. You would have only one hand entry, in clubs, and could take only one trump finesse. By unblocking, you gain another hand entry for the vital second spade finesse, needed here because of the unfriendly 4-0 split.
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