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Bridge 2/10

The expedition must be expeditious

In "Works and Days," the classical Greek poet Hesiod wrote, "Observe due measure, for right timing is in all things the most important factor."
    In bridge, timing is often critical. If you misstep, you fail, but if you pace in a timely fashion, you make or defeat the contract. This deal is an example. You are the declarer in four spades. West leads the club 10 and East overtakes with his jack. How would you plan the play?
North should have no qualms about raising to two spades. In particular, it is tactically poor to pass, potentially giving East an easier entry into the auction.
    You have four possible losers (one heart, one diamond and two clubs) and nine sure winners (six spades, one heart, one diamond and one club). Your only chance for a 10th trick is to establish a long diamond on the board. But here that requires ruffing two diamonds in your hand, so you will need three dummy entries, which must be the spade queen, spade 10 and heart ace.
    Win trick one (if you duck, East can shift to the heart jack, prematurely removing one of those vital dummy entries), take the spade ace, then cash the diamond ace and continue with the diamond jack. Let's assume West wins with his king and leads another club, East taking two tricks in the suit before switching to the heart jack. Cover with your queen and take West's king with dummy's ace. Ruff a diamond high in your hand, play a spade to the board, ruff another diamond high, lead a trump to the board, and cash the established diamond eight, discarding your remaining heart.

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