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When one loser might be alright
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French philosopher Denis Diderot, who died in 1784, wrote, "There are three principal means of acquiring knowledge: observation of nature, reflection, and experimentation. Observation collects facts; reflection combines them; experimentation verifies the result of that combination."
    That seems fair. So let's experiment on today's deal. How would you plan the play in six no-trump after West leads the diamond jack?
    North makes a quantitative leap to six no-trump, for which 33 combined points is the number to keep in mind, unless you have a five-card suit or a particularly good fit.
    There are 11 instant winners: two spades, two hearts, three diamonds and four clubs. What a pity we did not get into six clubs, when ruffing a spade in the South hand would have produced a 12th trick.
    One possible line is to run the minor suits, then to cash the top spades, bringing everyone down to four cards. You hope to read the end position, perhaps endplaying an opponent, presumably West, to lead away from three hearts to the queen. But if West sees that endplay coming, he will surely unblock his high spades, so that East could win the third spade.
    It is better to play for three heart tricks. There are two approaches: cash the ace and play low to the jack, or cash the king cross to the ace, and lead back toward the jack.
    A priori, the first line is 69 percent, the second 77 percent. We have a winner, and on a really sunny day, West will have started with the doubleton heart queen — the 8 percent chance that the first line gives up.
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