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Bridge 1/17

If one is weak, what about strong?

The dealer opens one of a suit and two passes follow. Yesterday, I explained that if you balance by making a one-no-trump overcall, that is weak, showing about 11-14 points. But what should you do when you have a balanced hand with somewhere between a good 15 and a middling 18 points, enough for a direct strong one-no-trump overcall?
    Now you must start with a takeout double and follow up with a minimum no-trump bid — as in this deal. How should South play in three no-trump after West leads the diamond queen?
    After South makes a balancing takeout double, West shows his second suit. North is almost worth a jump to three clubs, but knows that his partner might be a tad light for a balancing double. However, when South rebids two no-trump, showing a strong no-trump, North has an automatic raise to three no-trump. Be aggressive in bidding game, especially when the opposing points lie primarily in one hand.
    South has eight top tricks: three spades, two diamonds and three clubs. The clubs will supply the ninth, but the diamond ace is needed as a dummy entry. The correct play is to win the first trick in hand with the diamond king, cash the club king, then lead the club queen. When West's nine appears, the guaranteed play is to overtake with dummy's ace. Declarer continues with the club 10, driving out East's jack.
    Note that if South plays a low club from the board at trick three, he is being greedy, trying for an overtrick. Here, his ice-cream castle melts.

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