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Bridge 3/2

Is it a singleton or a doubleton?

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Posted: March 1, 2007 3:49 p.m.
Updated: March 16, 2007 5:00 a.m.
Cartoonist, humorist and journalist Kin Hubbard said, "The safest way to double your money is to fold it over and put it in your pocket."
    It's just a pity that that doesn't double your buying power.
    This week, we are looking at third-hand play, in particular the times when third hand should not play high. Is this one of them? Look at only the North and East hands. Against four hearts after the given auction, your partner, West, leads the spade jack. How would you plan the defense?
    North starts with a strong jump shift, showing some 13-16 high-card points and either a prime one-suiter, or a good two-suiter with clubs and hearts, the opener's suit. (When North includes his distributional values, the point-count goes higher.) The responder describes his hand and asks the opener to judge slam possibilities.
    Now let's return to East's predicament. Since the spade 10 is on the board, West's lead must be either a singleton or from a doubleton. If the lead is a singleton, South has five spades, which is impossible given the auction. So, the spade jack must be from a doubleton. And this means that declarer presumably has 4-5-4-0 distribution. Since East has no re-entry, he should signal encouragement with the spade nine. He must hope that West has the diamond ace (otherwise, declarer can get discards on dummy's clubs) and a quick trump entry. When West gets in with the heart king, he leads his second spade, receives his ruff, and cashes the diamond ace to defeat the contract..
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