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Bridge 10/25

We get greedy from pair events

If you play in many pair events at duplicate tournaments, you know how important overtricks can be. If everyone else with your cards is making four spades exactly, you get a top board if you can bring home an overtrick. But when you move away from pairs and play in either a team event or         Chicago, can you adjust, playing carefully to guarantee your contract and not worrying about those overtricks?
    Let's see. In this deal, you are in three no-trump. West leads his fourth-highest spade. How would you play?
    North, worried about a potential diamond weakness, tried to uncover a 4-4 spade fit. But when         South denied holding a four-card major, North plunged into three no-trump.
    You have five top tricks: one spade, three hearts and one diamond. You could get a sixth trick by running the opening lead around to your queen. And you have four readily establishable club tricks.
In a pair event, you would play low from the board at trick one, hoping either that West has led away from the spade king, or, if East takes this trick, that he will not find a killing diamond shift (which he ought to do here).
    But that is wrong when overtricks do not matter. You should take the first trick with the dummy's spade ace and immediately play on clubs. What is the worst that the defenders can do? They can win with the club ace and take three spade tricks if West had made an imaginative lead from the K-8-5 of spades. Whatever the distribution, you are assured of at least nine tricks.

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