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Bridge 12/24
Go backwards into Christmas
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    Johnny Carson said, "Mail your packages early so the post office can lose them in time for Christmas."
    Today, the last day to receive mail before Christmas, you, South, must avoid losing more than three tricks to make your four-spade contract. What would you do after West leads the heart king?
    Your hand contains only 16 high-card points, but after you add two points for your singleton heart, you have just enough to jump to game. Any time you smell a game, especially when vulnerable, bid that game.
    You have four possible losers: one diamond and three clubs. You have nine winners: five spades, one heart and three diamonds.
    One line of play is to draw trumps, then to play on diamonds. If they split 3-3, you can claim, your 13th diamond being your 10th trick. But a 3-3 break is against the odds, happening only 35.53 percent of the time.
    Instead, look for another way to get your trick total to 10. After winning the first trick with dummy's heart ace, ruff a heart high in your hand, play a diamond to dummy's queen, ruff another heart high, lead a trump to dummy, ruff the last heart with your remaining high trump, and draw trumps. That gives you eight tricks and you still have the ace and king of diamonds nestling in your hand. You win three spades on the board, one heart, three diamonds and three heart ruffs in your hand.
    This is a textbook dummy reversal. Any time dummy's trumps are particularly strong and you have a shortage in your hand, think about reversing the dummy.
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