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Bridge 6/9

The spades give you two choices

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Posted: June 8, 2007 5:04 p.m.
Updated: June 23, 2007 5:00 a.m.
    Abbe D'Allanival said, "The more alternatives, the more difficult the choice."
    That is why chess is harder than bridge. As a chess game begins, the number of possible moves greatly increases. But as a bridge deal unfolds, the number of choices — legal cards that can be played — steadily dwindles.
    In this deal, you are in four hearts. West starts with the diamond ace, the diamond king and a third diamond. After ruffing away East's diamond queen, how would you continue? In particular, how will you play the spades?
    South has sufficient high-card power to make a balancing takeout double on the first round, but with only two spades it is a dangerous call. Partners tend to assume at least three spades and have a habit of bidding the suit forever and a week.
    Whenever an opponent has bid, you should always check the high-card points. Here, you are missing only 15 -- but West opened the bidding and East has already played a queen. West surely holds the spade king. And it is rarely right to take a finesse that is destined to lose.
    Draw only one round of trumps with an honor from your hand, then cash your spade ace and continue with your second spade.
    If West wins with his king, you have 10 tricks via three spades, five hearts and two clubs. And if West ducks his king (stronger defense), you play three rounds of clubs. You will ruff your fourth club on the board, coming home with two spades, five hearts, two clubs and that club ruff in the shorter trump hand.
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