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Bridge 2/27

Third hand is not always high

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Posted: February 26, 2007 6:12 p.m.
Updated: March 13, 2007 5:00 a.m.
In the Babylonian Talmud, it says: "Eat a third and drink a third and leave the remaining third of your stomach empty. Then, when you get angry, there will be sufficient room for your rage."
    Even better, of course, is never to get angry, but nobody is perfect.
    Yesterday, I stressed that when third hand is playing high, he puts up the bottom of touching cards. So from the K-Q-5-4, he would play the queen, not the king. But what does third hand play when he cannot win the trick, because either his partner or the dummy (or declarer, if later in the play) has already played a card higher than the best that third hand holds? That, of course, depends on third hand's holding. If, though, he wishes to tell his partner about an honor-card sequence, he plays the top one — as in this deal.
    South has a close decision after a one-diamond opening on his left and a takeout double by partner. The six-spade suit suggests bidding up; the badly placed diamond honors advise caution. Here, South compromises, settling for a single jump to two spades, and North bids game.
    After West leads the club ace, there is only one successful defense. East must play the club queen at trick one. Next, West must continue with the club eight, putting partner on lead. Finally, East must shift to a diamond (the seven to deny an honor, or the two to give count), allowing West to cash two tricks in the suit. And any pair who did that would have every right to feel three-thirds happy with themselves.
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