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Bridge 8/15

It's hard to expect the unexpected

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    James Russell Lowell, who died in 1891 and was "only" a poet, critic, satirist, writer, diplomat, and abolitionist, wrote, "There is no good arguing with the inevitable. The only argument available with an east wind is to put on your overcoat."
    In this deal, many players would fail to anticipate the East wind. Can you? Look at the North and South hands. How would you plan the play in three no-trump after West leads the spade 10?
    You have six top tricks: three spades, one heart and two clubs. If you can bring in the clubs without loss, you will be home. But if you lose a club trick, when is your contract in danger?
    Only when West has four (or five) diamonds headed by the ace and king sitting over your queen and jack, and East can get in twice to blow diamonds through you.
    What two entry cards might East hold?
    The heart king and club queen.
    To make sure that East does not get in twice, win the first trick with dummy's spade queen (although doing so is not vital, playing the honor from the shorter side first unblocks the suit), cash the club ace, and play a club to your jack.
    Here the jack wins and you are playing for overtricks. Suppose, though, that West can take your jack with the queen. He cannot hurt you. If he shifts to a heart, you finesse. If he plays another spade, you win in your hand and take the heart finesse. You cannot lose more than four tricks.
        Note that if you misplay the clubs so that East scores his queen, you go down if he shifts to a diamond.
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