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How to avoid a catastrophe
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Pearl Buck wrote, "Every great mistake has a halfway moment, a split second when it can be recalled and perhaps remedied." Not just great mistakes, small ones too.
    At the bridge table, do you sometimes get the feeling that you are about to make a mistake? If so, you probably are. Delay your play for more than a split second and try to find the correct move.
    In this deal, how would you play in seven spades? West leads the heart ace.
    It was reasonable for South, despite just 19 high-card points, to open two clubs, because his hand contained only three losers. North's response promised a balanced hand with eight or more points. Five clubs, five diamonds and five hearts showed first-round controls, and six diamonds a second-round control. South then hoped he would know what to do with his third diamond when he saw the dummy!
    There are only 12 top tricks. You could hope that trumps are 2-2. Or, if they are 3-1, that the player with three also has at least four clubs. Then you could discard dummy's last diamond and ruff your third diamond on the board. But there is a much better line.
    Ruff the opening lead high, play a trump to the eight on the board (good, trumps are not 4-0), trump a heart high, lead a trump to dummy's nine, ruff a heart high, play a diamond to the king, trump the last heart, lead a diamond to the ace, pull East's last spade with dummy's jack (discarding your third diamond), and run the clubs to make the grand slam. It is a beautiful dummy reversal.
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