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Bridge 1/31

Do you run, or pause for a minute?

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Artur Schnabel, a famous Austrian pianist who died in 1951, said, "The notes I handle no better than many pianists. But the pauses between the notes — ah, that is where the art resides."
    At the bridge table, an expert's pauses between tricks to analyze the positions usually result in artful pieces of play.
    Occupy the South seat in this deal. You reach three no-trump. After West leads the heart nine, how would you proceed?
    North might have passed on the second round because he had only 13 points and a worrying spade void, but he reasonably decided to show his excellent six-card suit.
    South knew it was dangerous to bid three no-trump with only king-doubleton in hearts, but heading toward five diamonds was not without risk. (Here, of course, five diamonds makes.)
    You should play a low heart from the board at trick one; do not waste that queen. East plays an encouraging seven, and you take the trick with your king.
    Now there is a temptation to cash the diamond suit. But that would be fatal. You would have to lead a club off the board, and the defenders would run their hearts and take the spade ace.
    Remember the classic no-trump technique: First establish the tricks that you need to make your contract. Lead the spade queen (or king) from your hand. If West has the ace, you have no chance whatever you do. He would win with his ace and lead a second heart. But here East takes the trick and cannot hurt you.
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