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Bridge 3/14

Looks cost-free, but is expensive

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Posted: March 13, 2007 5:49 p.m.
Updated: March 28, 2007 5:00 a.m.
If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. If an item costs far less than you believe it should, there is probably something wrong. Perhaps it is broken; or it is a fake, not a designer item. In this deal, there seems to be a no-cost play, but it proves to be incredibly expensive.
    You are South, in six hearts. West leads the spade queen. What would be your plan?
    South knew that he would make the final decision for his partnership. So he started with a simple, nonjump response, learning that North had heart support and a minimum. Blackwood did the rest.
    South thought that it could not cost to try the spade king from the board at trick one — but he was wrong. East won with his ace and returned a spade. Declarer ruffed, drew trumps, and started on the diamonds, but the 4-1 break killed the contract.
    West would never lead the spade queen if he also held the ace. So playing the king from the board is pointless. And note the difference after South calls for a low spade. He loses that trick, ruffs the spade-jack continuation, draws trumps, plays a diamond to dummy's ace, and returns a diamond back to his hand, getting the bad news. Now he has only one chance — to cash all of his heart and club tricks, ending on the board and bringing everyone down to two cards. Dummy has the spade king and a low diamond. Declarer has the queen and another diamond. But what can East keep? He cannot retain the spade ace and two diamonds.
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