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Bridge 1/23

Take away a little, lose a lot

Francis A. Carter claimed: "There is only one way in which a person acquires a new idea: by combination or association of two or more ideas he already has into a new juxtaposition in such a manner as to discover a relationship among them of which he was not previously aware."
    Yesterday, we studied a suit combination of A-J-10-8 in the closed hand opposite K-9-7-4 on the board. The best play is to start with the jack from hand, hoping West will cover with the queen or make a telltale hesitation. Today's spade suit is remarkably similar. Should it be played in the same way?
    You reach four spades. West leads the diamond nine (top of nothing). East wins with his king, cashes the diamond ace, then shifts to the club jack. West takes your king with his ace and returns a club to your queen. How would you continue?
North, holding a low doubleton, used Stayman to locate the 4-4 spade fit.
    You must play the trump suit without loss. Many would lead the jack from hand. That works fine if the suit splits 3-2, but is fatal against a 4-1 break because you do not have the nine. It is particularly embarrassing if West covers with the singleton queen.
    Since you cannot win if West has four to the queen, you must worry about East's having that holding. Start with your low spade to dummy's king. When both opponents follow suit, continue with a spade to your jack (unless East puts in the queen, of course). Then, as long as East has the queen, you are safe.
    Keep both of these suit combinations juxtaposed in your mind.

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