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Bridge 11/03

Which of three is the best?

    Humorist Robert Benchley said, "If you think that you have caught a cold, call in a good doctor. Call in three good doctors and play bridge."
    Good for him — except that the doctor of one close friend said, "My brain works perfectly all day ... until I sit down at the bridge table."
In this deal, there are three ways to try to make four spades. What are they, and which is the best?
    A very aggressive player sitting West would overcall one spade with two no-trump, the Unusual No-trump, to show at least 5-5 in the minor suits. But with such a weak hand, it is unlikely that East-West will buy the contract, and if North or South declares, the distribution information provided by West might prove invaluable.
    Start by checking your losers. You should see four: three hearts and one club. Then tally your tricks. You have nine winners: six spades, one heart, one diamond and one club.
Trick 10 might come from hearts, if the six missing cards break 3-3. Or the club finesse could win. Or you could ruff a heart on the board. Mathematically, how do these compare? A 3-3 split occurs 35.53 percent of the time. A finesse is a 50-50 shot. The heart ruff is effectively 100 percent.
    So, win with your diamond ace, cash the heart ace, and play another heart. Suppose East shifts to a trump. Take the trick in your hand and lead another heart. East may play a second spade, but you win in your hand and ruff your last heart with dummy's spade queen.

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