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Bridge 1/6

Both sides can spill the liquid

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Samuel Johnson wrote, "Wine makes a man more pleased with himself; I do not say that it makes him more pleasing to others."
    That's true. In yesterday's deal, both defenders had to play carefully to make sure that the wine in their glasses was not spilled onto the floor. Today, both sides have chances to lose the champagne in their flutes. How should the play proceed in three no-trump after West leads his fourth-highest diamond?
    North's auction, Stayman followed by a jump to three no-trump after a two-heart reply, shows the values for game with a four-card spade suit. If South had four spades as well, he would convert to four spades.
    South can see seven top tricks: four spades, two hearts and one club. If the club finesse is working, there will be no problems. But if the club finesse is losing, the defenders might take four diamonds and one club.
    And that is the target for the defenders. To start them on the right track, East wins with his diamond ace and returns the diamond nine, the higher of two remaining cards.     If South goes up with his queen or jack, West ducks, playing his three. Then, when East gets in with his club king, he can lead his third diamond and the defenders collect those five tricks.
    But South can be the one toasted with champagne. At trick two, he plays his remaining low diamond, not one of his honors. He can afford to lose three diamonds and one club, so this play can never cost and might gain — as it does here.
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