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Bridge 8/23

Retain the ace for how long?

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    Cicero, who died in 43 B.C., said, "When you wish to instruct, be brief; then men's minds take in quickly what you say, learn its lesson, and retain it faithfully. Every word that is unnecessary only pours over the side of a brimming mind."
    I wish I would remember that when giving a class— but then maybe what is supposed to last two hours would be over in half the time.
    In this deal, you are the declarer in three no-trump. How would you plan the play after West leads the heart eight and East inserts the queen?
    At least the bidding is brief.
    You have six top tricks: four spades, one heart and one diamond. There are four more available in clubs. However, there is a danger that the opponents, when in with the club ace, will cash too many heart tricks. Since you would be happy for East to shift at trick two, you can apply the Rule of Seven. You have six hearts between your hand and the dummy. Subtracting six from seven gives one. So, hold up your heart ace for only one round.
    After winning the second heart trick, play a club. Here, you come home with an overtrick. (If West has the club ace, you must hope he started with only four hearts. And if East, after winning with the club ace, could produce a third heart, you would be safe because the hearts would be 4-3.)
    Note, though, that if you duck the second trick, West, with no entry, might switch to the diamond 10. If he does, your contract will go down three (if you cash out) or down four (if you play a club). So your trick-two play may make a four- or five-trick difference.
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