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Bridge 3/1

From an odd number to an even number

Henry James wrote, "Three things in human life are important: the first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind."
    Did he write that in triplicate?
    This week, we are looking at third-hand play. Yesterday, I explained that if third hand has no card higher than an eight, he should not automatically play high. Instead, he should give count, dropping his lowest card with an odd number, or starting an echo (high-low) with an even number. This should help partner to count out the suit. And it applies in both no-trump and suit contracts.
    Here is another no-trump game that exhibits why playing the right card is so important.
    As mentioned yesterday, with some strength in his doubleton, maybe North should just jump to three no-trump, not use Stayman, which gave the defenders extra information about the declarer's hand.
    After West leads the heart five, East should play the eight — not because it is third hand high, but because he has an even number and is starting an echo. (Yesterday, East played the two from 8-3-2.) This play tells West that South started with three hearts.
    Declarer wins with his jack, plays a spade to the board, and runs the diamond queen.
    West, knowing that South has two hearts left, must hope that East has an entry. West shifts to the club eight (his highest spot-card to show no interest in this suit). East wins with his ace and returns the heart two: down two.
    Note that if West does anything else at trick four, the contract makes.

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