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Bridge 7/26

East's pass points to the answer

British poet Edward Hodnett wrote, "If you don't ask the right questions, you don't get the right answers. A question asked in the right way often points to its own answer. Asking questions is the ABC of diagnosis. Only the inquiring mind solves problems."
    What a bridge player he might have been!
    This week we are looking at key questions that declarer should ask himself: How many points has an opponent promised or denied, and how many has he shown up with already?
    You are in four hearts. West leads the spade king. East overtakes with his ace and returns the four. West wins with his eight, cashes the club ace, then leads the spade nine, which you ruff.
    After West opened one spade and two passes followed, you might have balanced with a three-heart jump overcall, which would have been intermediate, showing some 14-16 high-card points and a decent six-card suit. But your suit was not quite strong enough. However, after West rebid two spades and North raised to three hearts, you bid the heart game.
    The defense was sensible. West led the third spade in the hope that his partner could ruff with the heart nine, which would have uppercut your ace and promoted West's king.
    Now you must play the trump suit without loss. Normally, you would run dummy's queen. Here, though, East passed over his partner's opening bid. This said that he had fewer than six points, and he has already produced the spade ace. West must have the heart king. Cash your heart ace and hope West has to drop the singleton king.

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