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Bridge 4/12

Concentrate on now, not later

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In "The Music Man," Meredith Willson wrote, "Never let the demands of tomorrow interfere with the pleasures and excitement of today."
    That is applicable to bridge players. Many, when an opponent is taking his time to decide on his next move, stare off into space, perhaps thinking about what they will do after the game ends, or tomorrow. But they should be concentrating on today — the deal that they are playing. Use an opponent's thinking time to do some counting and card placing.
    In this deal, East is defending against three no-trump. In answer to his one-club opening bid, West leads the club nine. How would East plan the defense?
    East's one-club bid is borderline because that suit is so weak, but he has two four-card majors, which makes it correct to open. North, aware that his partner will know where the missing high cards lie, is justified in punting straight into three no-trump.
    West's club-nine lead is clearly either a singleton or the top of a doubleton. So East knows that declarer is looking at the A-Q-10-6, A-Q-10-2 or A-Q-10-6-2 of clubs. Assuming declarer calls for a low club from the dummy, East should not put up his jack, which guarantees holding the queen as well and shows an interest in the suit. He should play a discouraging four. (If dummy rises with the king, East should still follow suit with the four.)
    If East does play low at trick one, when West gains the lead with his diamond king, it should not be too difficult for him to shift to the spade 10, defeating the contract.
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