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Bridge 10/26

Keeping one from getting to the other

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Posted: October 25, 2006 6:08 p.m.
Updated: November 2, 2006 5:00 a.m.
Truman Capote said, "I believe more in the scissors than I do in the pencil."
    One word in that sentence gives you a big hint to the correct game plan in today's deal, which would be misplayed by many. You reach four hearts. West leads the spade jack. How would you proceed?
    In the modern game, West might overcall one spade. If so, North could pass to show his minimum opening bid, but there is a strong case, because he has two spade stoppers, for bidding one no-trump regardless and refusing to let a pushy opponent push him around.
    It looks obvious to win with the spade king on the board and play a trump to the queen or king. (To finesse the 10 on the first round, although it works here, is not the correct percentage play.) When it holds, you return to the dummy with a spade and call for the remaining heart. But suddenly disaster strikes. East, who has carefully played high-low in spades to show his doubleton, wins with the heart ace and looks closely at his partner's discard. West would probably throw an encouraging club seven, but might select the discouraging diamond deuce (although it is usually better to be positive than negative). Now East will shift to a club. West will win and return a spade for East to ruff. Later, West will collect the diamond king to defeat the contract.
    South should allow for this possibility. At trick three, he should lead his club to cut the communications between the defenders. Then East can never get a spade ruff.
    This play is called a scissors coup.
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