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Bridge 3/31

A raise is weak, two no-trump good

Yesterday, I pointed out that if a one-heart or one-spade opening bid is doubled by the next player, responder's jump-raise to three of the major is pre-emptive, showing at most nine support points and (at least) nine losers. So what does the responder do if he has a hand worth a normal game-invitational limit raise?
    He responds two no-trump, a bid "invented" by Alan Truscott, the former bridge columnist of The New York Times. This shows by partnership agreement either a limit raise with at least four-card support (then, a response of three no-trump would be a game-forcing raise with four-plus trumps), or a limit raise or stronger with four-card or longer support.
    Here, North bid two no-trump with 15 support points (12 in high cards and 3 for the singleton). When South showed a minimum opening by rebidding three hearts, North moved on to four hearts.
    West led the spade queen. How should South have planned the play?
    Declarer saw four potential losers, one in each suit. One possibility was to play West for the king and queen of diamonds. But South realized it was much better to discard dummy's spade loser on his second club. Carefully watching his entries, declarer won the first trick on the board and immediately played a club. West took the trick and returned his spade nine, but South won in his hand with the ace and discarded dummy's last spade on a club winner. Declarer ruffed his spade loser on the board and, with his loser count down to three, called for a trump.
    Watch those third-round losers!

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