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Bridge 5/16

In team play, ignore overtricks

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Bridge, as we all know, is played by pairs — you and your partner. But in a head-to-head team match, you and your partner play with another pair and compare scores. The two of you, say, sit North-South at one table and your teammates are East-West at the other table.
    In a team event, overtricks are almost meaningless. In this deal, South is in a vulnerable four hearts. If he makes it, he scores 620 points. If he collects an overtrick, he gets 650 — an extra 30 points. But suppose this try for an overtrick costs the contract. Now he is minus 100 instead of plus 620 — he loses 720 points trying to gain 30. Hardly sensible.
    Take the South seat in four hearts. West leads the club queen to your ace. How would you continue?
    North's two-spade cue-bid showed at least game-invitational values with three or more hearts. After South signed off in three hearts, North raised to game because he had game-going values.
    You seem to have only three possible losers: two spades and one heart. And if West holds the heart king, you can bring home an overtrick. But notice what happens if you run the heart queen at trick two. East wins with his king and shifts to the spade four. West takes two spade tricks and gives his partner a spade ruff: down one.
    Instead, after leading the heart queen to tempt West to cover, rise with dummy's ace and play a second heart. Even if West can win with the king, your contract is safe. You go down only when East began with three hearts including the king — and then your contract was unmakable.
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