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Bridge 12/19

A pair for today and for tomorrow

    Poet and journalist Eugene Field wrote, "Here we have a baby. It is composed of a bald head and a pair of lungs."
    Today's deal and tomorrow's comprise an important pair in the discipline of defensive play. It might seem like child's play to you to get them right, but many players would err on one or the other.
    West, defending against three no-trump, leads the spade jack: four, two, king. South immediately plays a club, putting West back in. What should happen next? Also, what do you think of the North-South bidding?
    Taking the second of that pair of questions first, the bidding is fine. Remember, do not play in two no-trump with a long suit opposite some fit. Either get into the suit at the three-level or go for three no-trump. So, when South invites game with two no-trump, North should raise to game. He can see six tricks (five clubs and one heart), and if partner does not have the heart king, the finesse is probably winning because it is through the opening bidder.
    From the first trick, West should know that South holds the spade queen. If East had that card, he would have either played it or signaled with a high, encouraging spot card. Therefore, unless South has exactly the doubleton king-queen, West needs to get his partner on lead for a spade return through that queen.
    Since the only chance is that East holds the diamond ace, West should shift to the diamond nine, the high card denying an honor in the suit. East should grab the trick and return a spade, taking the contract down two.

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