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Bridge 11/4
Usually toward, but sometimes from
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    It is normally correct to play toward an honor combination, but not always. How would you try to land nine tricks in no-trump on today's deal? West leads the diamond nine.
    South's sequence, an artificial two-club opening followed by a two-no-trump rebid, showed 23 or 24 points. Although he had only 22 high-card points, he upgraded because he had two 10s and nine controls. (An ace counts as two controls and a king as one. A two-no-trump opening will usually have seven controls, and a typical two-clubs-followed-by-two-no-trump hand will have eight controls. If your hand has more controls than that, it is good news and justifies an upgrade.)
    A nine-lead is always top of nothing (unless you play what are called coded leads, when a jack, 10 or nine shows zero or two higher cards). So you know that East has the diamond queen, probably singleton. That gives you eight top tricks: two hearts, four diamonds and two clubs.
    You could hope for a 3-3 club break, when you would get a third club trick. But that would happen only about one-third of the time. Much better is to play on spades, where you can eventually establish a trick. However, because dummy has only one entry, you cannot afford to play a spade toward your hand. Instead, take the first trick in your hand and lead the spade king (or 10).
    West will win with his ace and do something, perhaps shift to the heart seven, but you take the trick and continue with your spade 10 (or king). There is nothing that the defense can do.
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