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Bridge 10/28
Get lucky: count to an unlucky number
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George Burns, who was a keen bridge player, said, "It takes only one drink to get me drunk. The trouble is, I can't remember if it's the 13th or the 14th."
In most bridge deals, you should have to count to 13. It is just that occasionally you get lazy. Well, sorry, not you -- your partner. In this deal, if you count to 13, an apparent guess becomes a certainty.
    Normally, a four-heart opening is based on an eight-card suit, but West's hand is too good to start with three hearts, especially at favorable vulnerability. North's double is flexible. He might have a 4-1-4-4 14-count or any relatively balanced hand with at least 15 or 16 high-card points. He is saying that he is too strong to pass, but has no long suit to show. South would usually pass with a balanced hand, expecting the opposing contract to fail, but here, with five spades, he is happy to contract for a vulnerable game.
    Against four spades, West cashes his two top hearts, then shifts to the diamond nine.
Declarer wins with his queen and plays a trump to the ace on the board, getting the bad news. Suddenly South must find the club queen to get home. But after drawing two more rounds of trumps and taking dummy's diamond honors, he has a complete count of the deal. He knows West started with no spades, seven hearts, two diamonds and, therefore, four clubs. Declarer cashes his club king (in case East has a singleton queen), then takes the foolproof finesse through West. South loses only one spade and two hearts.
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