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Bridge 7/25

Let those points point the way

    H.M. Tomlinson was an English writer and journalist known for antiwar and travel writing, novels and short stories, especially of life at sea. He wrote, "It is better to obey the mysterious direction, without any fuss, when it points to a new road, however strange that road may be. There is probably as much reason for it, if the truth were known, as for anything else."
    In bridge, the points often point truthfully to the right road — as in this deal.
    You are South, in four hearts. West leads the spade queen. How would you plan the play?
North makes a game-invitational limit raise by bidding three hearts. This shows 10-12 support points and, usually, eight losers. North's hand has nine losers (three spades, two hearts, two diamonds and two clubs), but with 11 high-card points, it is too strong for a single raise. High point-count overrules the losing trick count.
    West's spade-queen lead marks East with the ace and king. (With the spade king as well, West would have led the king, not the queen. And West wouldn't have led from the A-Q-J of spades against a suit contract.) The defenders cash a second spade trick, then play a third round.
    You ruff and draw trumps. Next, you should find out who holds the diamond ace. When it turns out to be East, he is known to have started with 11 points: the spade A-K and diamond ace. Therefore, since East passed as dealer, he cannot have the club queen. Play a club to your king and return a club to dummy's jack, knowing that the finesse must win.

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