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Bridge 1/18
Blow away the mist and look clearly
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    Oscar Wilde claimed: "A pessimist is one who, when he has a choice of two evils, chooses both."
    The word "pessimist" contains the letters of another word: mist. Some bridge players operate as if their heads are surrounded by mist. They cannot see what is going on around them.
    South is in four spades. West leads a heart. East takes two tricks in the suit, then shifts to the club jack. How should South continue? What do you think of the bidding? Which heart should West lead?
    First, the bidding is fine. North, in answer to his partner's takeout double, cue-bids to say that he has at least 12 high-card points. Then South, since he does not have a five-card suit, bids four-carders up the line, whatever their quality. And North jumps to game when he learns about the eight-card spade fit.
    West should lead either the heart two or the heart deuce, according to choice! Normally, with a weak suit headed by the nine-eight, he would lead the nine: top of nothing. But not in his partner's unsupported suit. Here, count — how many cards he holds — is more important than attitude — denying an honor in the suit.
    South should count the high-card points. Since dummy has 13 and he has 14, there are only 13 missing. And since East opened the bidding, he must have the spade king. So, after winning the third trick, declarer plays a spade to dummy's ace, then calls for a low spade. When East's king drops, South can claim.
    Do not take a finesse that must fail.
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