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Bridge 1/24

The suit is weaker, the play is different

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Posted: January 23, 2007 4:55 p.m.
Updated: February 7, 2007 5:00 a.m.
This week, we are looking at some commonly occurring suit combinations that are often misplayed. We started with A-J-10-8 in the closed hand opposite K-9-7-4 on the board. It is correct to lead the jack from hand, hoping that West will cover with the queen or make a telltale hesitation.
    Yesterday, we weakened the suit to A-J-10-3 in hand opposite K-7-4-2 on the board. Now low to dummy's king on the first round, planning to finesse through right-hand opponent on the second round, is best. This guards against a singleton queen on the left and four to the queen on the right.
    Now look at today's layout. Against four spades, West leads the diamond nine. East takes two tricks in the suit, then shifts to the club jack. West wins with his ace and returns a club. After winning in your hand, how would you continue?
    North loves that Stayman convention, finding the 4-4 spade fit.
    Momentarily, this looks like yesterday's layout, but it is not. You now have the nine instead of the 10. Cashing dummy's king to allow for a singleton queen in the West hand does you no good. If East has 10-8-7-3 of spades, he must get a trick, which would defeat your contract.
    Instead, cross to the board with a heart and call for a low spade. When East plays the queen, win with your ace, cash the spade jack, play a spade to dummy's nine, draw West's last trump, and claim. But if East plays a low spade on the first round, put in your jack, hoping that the finesse works and the suit is splitting 3-2.
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