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Bridge 10/11
Watch the power of eights and nines
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    Most tricks are won by aces, kings, queens and trumps. But lower cards, even nines and eights, can be valuable too — as in this deal.
    You are in six hearts. West leads the spade jack. You win in your hand and draw trumps in three rounds. What would you do next?
    Opposite two no-trump showing 21-22 points (or a good 20), North used Stayman, located the 4-4 heart fit, and made a quantitative leap to six hearts.
    Declarer cashed his club king and played a club to dummy's ace. East's discard was a blow. But not giving up, South took his other two spade tricks, cashed his club queen, and exited with a club to West's jack. West shifted to a low diamond, and declarer called for dummy's queen. Unlucky — East produced the king and South had to go down.
    "I knew it," said South, shaking his head. "Whenever there is mirror distribution (both hands were 3-4-2-4), something bad always seems to happen."
    North had seen the sure-trick line, though.
    "Partner, hoping for 3-2 clubs can wait. After drawing trumps and cashing your club king, take the other two spade tricks, then play the ace and another diamond. What can the defenders do?"
    After a few moments, South said, "Yes, I see. My club eight and nine come into play. If the clubs are 4-1 and the defender with the singleton has the diamond king, he must give me a ruff-and-sluff. And if the defender with the diamond king started with four clubs, he is endplayed. When he returns a club, I play second hand low and pick up the suit without loss."
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