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Bridge 3/7

One hurdle crossed, another waiting

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Lawrence Bixby said, "Each handicap is like a hurdle in a steeplechase, and when you ride up to it, if you throw your heart over, the horse will go along, too."
    When you play a deal that contains a high hurdle and you jump over it successfully, do not then trip over the limbo stick lying a few tricks down the track.
    In this deal, you reach four hearts. West leads the club queen. The defenders continue playing clubs until you ruff the third round. How would you continue?
    South's two-heart response promised at least a five-card suit, so North decided that, despite his minimum count, he ought to rebid three hearts (not pass). South, knowing about the double fit, was happy to raise to game.
    You have lost two clubs and will concede one spade. So you must play the red suits without loss. This requires finding East with exactly king-doubleton in hearts. Lead a spade to the ace on the board (not a diamond to the king) and call for a low heart, putting in your jack when East plays low. After that holds, cash the heart ace, being relieved to see the king drop.
    Having cleared that major hurdle, you seem to be home free, but do not take your eye off the diamond suit. Draw West's last trump by playing a heart to the queen, then lead a diamond to your ace and cash the diamond queen. If everyone follows, claim. If West discards, concede down one. But when East discards, play a diamond to dummy's invaluable 10 and claim.
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