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Bridge 10/17

Hear the bidding and count the cards

    Andre Gide, a French novelist and essayist who died in 1951, wrote, "Everything has been said before, but since nobody listens, we have to keep going back and saying it all over again."
    At the bridge table, you must listen closely to every call. Each gives you some information. And occasionally that knowledge will be crucial to your finding the winning defense or declarer play.
    In this deal, you are South, in four spades. West, who opened three diamonds at unfavorable vulnerability, leads the diamond ace: three, 10, two. West continues with the diamond queen. What would be your plan?
    When three diamonds came around, you mentally placed North, your partner, with six or seven working high-card points and jumped to four spades. (Yes, if you had bid three spades, North would have continued with three no-trump, an easy contract to make, but that is not the point. One deal does not an irrefutable argument make!)
    West's opening bid tells you that he started with seven diamonds. So East began with a singleton, and if you play dummy's diamond king at trick two, East will ruff it. Now, it is true, if the heart finesse is working, as it might well be, this will make no difference. But with this layout, if East ruffs away the diamond king and shifts to a heart, you will lose four tricks: one heart, one diamond, one diamond ruff and one club.
    Just play low from the board at trick two. When West leads a third diamond, you overruff East, draw trumps, and run the club jack to guarantee your contract, losing two diamonds and one club.

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