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Bridge 11/10

From the lands Down Under

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Australian Bridge is a bimonthly large-page-format magazine containing the usual mix of tournament reports, instruction and quizzes, including a bidding competition with answers based on the opinions of an expert panel. (The Bridge World, Bridge Magazine and New Zealand Bridge also have this feature.) Look at the South hand and the auction. What would you rebid?
    Some bidding-panel moderators show a full deal, then claim that the winning at-the-table action is best. But one snowflake does not make a blizzard. At the table, South bid a reasonable two no-trump, which ended the auction. West guessed luckily, leading a spade. Later, East unblocked his club queen at the key moment, and the contract went down two. If West starts with the diamond jack, declarer wins one spade, two diamonds and five clubs.
    Strangely, the panelists were not told if two hearts was forcing (my preference), or nonforcing but encouraging (the majority choice), or an effective signoff (an unpopular treatment). If the bid is forcing, South must insist on game. If it is encouraging, he must at least invite game. And if it is a signoff, he would probably pass, but might raise to three hearts.
    No-trump does look tempting, but perhaps raising hearts is preferable because partner will normally have a six-card suit. Note that to defeat four hearts, East must lead a diamond, and when declarer tries to duck a spade, West must go in with his eight and shift to a trump to prevent a spade ruff.
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