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Bridge 11/02
Do not be in such a hurry
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Sir Winston Churchill said, "Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened."
    What is the truth about this deal? South plays in three no-trump. West leads the spade jack (his stronger major!). Who should finish with a plus score?
    With two low and three low in the majors, South does not like to respond one no-trump, but he is too weak to bid two clubs, and to raise to two diamonds with only three trumps is not palatable either.
    South can see seven top tricks: two spades, two hearts and three diamonds. An eighth is possible in the unlikely event of a 3-3 diamond split, but that could wait. Instead, declarer sees that he has to tackle the clubs. He takes trick one on the board (ducking is all right too, but unnecessary) and immediately plays a club to his jack.
    Now the spotlight falls on West. If he wins this trick, the contract will make. Declarer will win West's spade continuation and drive out the club ace. South still has the diamond ace as a hand entry, and the defenders get only two spades and two clubs.
    But let's return to trick two and let West duck, playing his club five. Now declarer's proverbial goose is grilled. He gets only one club trick, and when the diamonds do not divide evenly, there are only eight tricks available.
    The bidding marks South with club length because he denied a major and diamond support. So West should not hurry to help declarer establish his suit.
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