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Bridge 10/17

After leading, keep thinking

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Yesterday, I recommended that declarer should take between 30 and 60 seconds to plan the play after the dummy has been tabled. The defenders should also be using this time to think. In particular, each should ask himself this question: From where will we get the tricks that we need to defeat the contract? Often, answering that will make the right defense obvious — as in this deal.
    Defending against three hearts, you lead the spade ace: four, nine, seven. You continue with the spade jack: five, three, eight. What would you do now?
    Although it is not recommended to rebid in a five-card suit, those spades look like a six-bagger. You might make a takeout double to bring clubs into the picture, but that suit is weak.
    The defenders must win five tricks. East has played high-low in spades, showing a doubleton. So you can take a third spade trick, and you have the heart ace too. But where is the fifth trick?
    If South has the points for his two-heart bid, East cannot have a club trick. The only real hope for success is your diamond shortage. At trick three, shift to the diamond three.
    Declarer will win in hand with his queen and lead a low heart, but you rush in with your ace, then lead the spade two (or queen). East should see what is needed. He will trump the trick and return a diamond, your ruff defeating the contract. You collect two spades, one heart, one spade ruff and one diamond ruff.
    Keep your eyes open for the tricks you need to down declarer.
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